FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-321
June 11, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Rudolf J. Weiss,Complainant(s)
against
Chairman, Pension Board, Town of Stratford; and Pension Board, Town of Stratford, Respondent(s)

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 13, 1997, at which time the complainant and respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. By letter of complaint dated July 29, 1996, and filed with the Commission on August 5, 1996, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated 1-21(a), G.S., by filing improper notice of the respondent board’s July 16, 1996 special meeting ("July meeting"). The complainant requested that the Commission declare that all action taken by the respondents at the board’s July meeting be declared null and void.

3. Section 1-21(a), G.S., states in relevant part, that:

…[n]otice of each special meeting of every public agency … shall be given not less than twenty-four hours prior to the time of such meeting by filing a notice of the time and place thereof in the office of the … clerk of each municipal member for any multitown district or agency…. The notice shall specify the time and place of the special meeting and the business to be transacted. No other business shall be considered at such meetings by such public agency….

4. It is found that on or about July 11, 1996, the respondent chairman instructed his secretary to notice the respondent board’s July meeting for 6:30 p.m.

5. It is found that on the afternoon of July 11, 1996, the notice of the respondent board’s July meeting, indicating that it would begin at 6:30 p.m., was filed with the town clerk.

6. It is found that notice of the respondent board’s July meeting was provided to the public in accordance with the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.

7. It is found that as a courtesy, the town manager’s office prepares an unofficial schedule of weekly meetings which lists the date, time and location of meetings for every municipal agency scheduled to meet that week.

8. It is found that on or about July 12, 1996, the complainant, as a member of the town council, was provided a "pony packet" of meeting notices, which included the respondent board’s July meeting notice described in paragraph 5., above, and the town manager’s schedule of town meetings for the week of July 15 through 19, 1996. The town manager’s schedule incorrectly listed 7:00 p.m. as the time of the July meeting.

9. It is found that the complainant only read the town manager’s weekly meeting schedule and therefore noted the meeting time for the respondent board’s meeting as 7:00 p.m.

10. It is found that in reliance on the town manager’s weekly meeting schedule notice the complainant and three other members of the respondent board arrived at the board’s July meeting at approximately 6:50 p.m., thereby missing the discussion and nine to zero vote that had already occurred concerning a certain disability pension award.

11. While it is unfortunate that the complainant relied upon the town manager’s meeting notice which erroneously listed the time for the July meeting, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the notice provisions of 1-21(a), G.S., under the facts of this case.

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

2. The Commission notes that as a result of the circumstances in this case, the town manager’s weekly schedule of town meetings now contains a disclaimer that the schedule is not an official schedule of the town bodies listed thereon. Presumably the town manager’s schedule also refers the public to the various public agencies listed on the schedule for official information about the date, time, location and purpose of the meetings listed.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 11, 1997.

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

Rudolph J. Weiss
2119 Broadbridge Avenue
Stratford, CT 06497

Chairman, Pension Board, Town of Stratford; and Pension Board, Town of Stratford
c/o James R. Miron, Esq.
Assistant Town Attorney
Town Hall
2725 Main Street
Stratford, CT 06497

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-321/FD/eal/06231997