FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Docket #FIC 1996-608
October 22, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by Lorraine Tirella, Complainant
Theodore Oczkowski, Chairman, Park & Recreation Commission, Town Of Oxford; Harold Olsen; Karin Burke; Robert Fitzgerald; Paul Mc Ginnis; Colleen Lundgren; Enio Pucci; Ken Rotman and Lorraine Tirella as members of the Park & Recreation Commission, Town Of Oxford; Christmas Lighting Event Subcommittee of the Park and Recreation Commission, Town of Oxford and Kate Cosgrove, Charles Lyon, and Paul Schreiber, Selectmen, Town of Oxford Respondents
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 11, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The case caption was corrected to reflect all the members of the Park and Recreation Commission and to identify the Selectmen.
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 December 23, 1996 and filed with the Commission on December 27, 1996, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by convening an unnoticed subcommittee meeting, failing to prepare minutes for such meeting and failing to provide her, a member of the subcommittee, with notice of such meeting.
3. In her December 23, 1996 complaint, the complainant requested that the Commission impose civil penalties upon the respondents.
4. It is found that at a November 12, 1996 regular meeting of the respondent Park and Recreation Commission, such commission decided that the respondent subcommittee would meet on November 25, 1996 to plan and discuss the upcoming Christmas lighting event ("Christmas event").
5. It is found that on November 25, 1996 two of the four members of the respondent subcommittee met and decided to cancel the Christmas event for lack of interest in such event.
6. Section 1-18a(b), G.S., defines meeting to include a proceeding of a public agency to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.
7. It is found that the respondent subcommittee meeting of November 25, 1996, described in paragraph 5, above, constituted a proceeding of such subcommittee, and therefore, was a meeting within the meaning of § 1-18a(b), G.S.
8. It is also found that the November 25, 1996 meeting was a special meeting within the meaning of § 1-21(a), G.S.
9. Section 1-21(a), G.S., requires that notice of each special meeting be given not less than twenty-four hours prior to the time of such meeting by filing a notice of the time and place in the office of the clerk of the subdivision; that the clerk post such notice in his/her office; that the notice specify the time and place of the meeting and the business to be transacted; and that written notice of the meeting be delivered to the usual place of abode of each member of the public agency so that the same is received prior to such special meeting.
10. It is found that at the November 25, 1996 special meeting the respondent subcommittee did not transact any other business but to cancel the Christmas event.
11. At the hearing on this matter, the respondents conceded that no notice or minutes were prepared for the November 25, 1996 meeting.
12. It is concluded that the respondent Park and Recreation Commission violated § 1-21(a), G.S., when it failed to provide notice, and to prepare minutes of the November 25, 1996 subcommittee meeting.
13. The commission in its discretion declines to impose civil penalties in this matter.
14. It is found that the apparent escalating hostility and intolerance between the complainant and the respondents has led to a significant breakdown in their communication, dialogue and willingness to cooperate with each other.
15. It is also concluded that the respondents selectmen are not proper parties to this appeal.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth, the respondent Park and Recreation Commission shall strictly comply with the notice and minutes requirements of § 1-21(a), G.S.
2. The complaint is dismissed with respect to the respondent selectmen.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 22, 1997.
Doris V. Luetjen
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:
11 Larkey Road
Oxford, CT 06478
Theodore Oczkowski, Chairman, Park & Recreation
Commission, Town Of Oxford; Harold Olsen; Karin Burke; Robert
Fitzgerald; Paul Mc Ginnis; Colleen Lundgren; Enio Pucci; Ken
Rotman and Lorraine Tirella as members of the Park &
Recreation Commission, Town Of Oxford; Christmas Lighting Event
Subcommittee of the Park and Recreation Commission, Town of
Oxford and Kate Cosgrove, Charles Lyon, and Paul Schreiber,
Selectmen, Town of Oxford
c/o Dominick J. Thomas, Jr.
315 Main Street
Derby, CT 06418
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission