FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-298
July 9, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Gene Trainor and The Connecticut Post, Complainants
against
West Haven Mayor Borer’s Race Relations Task Force, Respondent

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 29, 1997, at which time the complainants and respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts, 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. By letter of complaint dated July 29, 1996 and filed with the Commission on July 30, 1996, the complainants appealed the respondent’s denial of the complainant Trainor’s right to attend the June 26, 1996 meeting of the respondent task force.

2. It is found that on June 26, 1996 the respondent task force and the United States Department of Justice Community Relations Service held a meeting which the complainant Trainor was asked to leave by a Justice Department’s conciliation specialist.

3. The respondent contends that it is not a public agency and therefore not subject to the provisions of the FOI Act, but rather it is subject to federal law, specifically the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title X, 42 U.S.C. 2000g-2(b).

4. Section 1-18a(a), G.S., defines public agency, in relevant part, as:

any . . . town agency, any department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official . . . of any city, town, borough, municipal corporation . . . or other district or other political subdivision of the state, including any committee of, or created by, any such office, subdivision, agency, department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official. . . .

5. It is found that the Mayor of West Haven sought the intervention of the United States Department of Justice Community Relations Service after a March 28, 1996 incident caused racial tensions in the city to flare.

6. It is also found that on or about April 18, 1996 a conciliation specialist from the Justice Department’s regional Community Relations Service office convened and hosted a forum on race relations in the City of West Haven, and at the forum she asked for volunteers to serve on a race relations task force.

7. It is further found that the respondent task force was established by the conciliation specialist, is comprised of city residents, state and city officials, including the mayor, and representatives from other organizations, reports to the conciliation specialist, and that the agenda and meeting schedule for the respondent task force is set by the conciliation specialist, who also presides at task force meetings.

8. It is further found that the mayor’s office functions with respect to the respondent task force solely to provide support services to the conciliation specialist and the respondent task force, such as photocopying and mailing documents, and by supplying the postage for all such mailings.

9. It is therefore concluded that despite its designation, the respondent task force is not a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S., and consequently the Commission lacks subject matter jurisdiction over such task force.

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.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 9, 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:
Gene Trainor and The Connecticut Post
c/o Reg Johnson
The Connecticut Post
410 State Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604

West Haven Mayor Borer’s Race Relations Task Force
c/o Henry C. Szadkwoski, Esq.
355 Main Street
West Haven, CT 06516

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-298/FD/eal/07231997