FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Thomas J. Doyle,|
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-240|
|Chairman, Inland Wetlands Commission,
City of Bristol; and Inland Wetlands
Commission, City of Bristol,
|Respondents||March 10, 1999|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 30, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of § 1-18a(1), G.S.
2. By letter dated July 13, 1998, and filed with this Commission on July 14, 1998, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information "FOI" Act as follows:
a) the minutes of the respondents May 18, 1998, meeting were not available to the public until June 24, 1998;
b) votes taken at the respondents June 29, 1998, meeting were not listed individually;
c) reasons for each members vote at the respondents June 29, 1998 were not given;
d) the agenda items were not taken up in the order listed on the agenda;
e) minutes of the respondents June 15, 1998, meeting are inaccurate because they were adopted without corrections;
f) minutes of the respondents June 15, 1998, meeting are incomplete because they were adopted without amendments;
g) minutes of the respondents June 15, 1998, meeting were not read at the meeting before they were adopted;
h) the respondents failed to allow members of the public an opportunity to point out errors in the minutes of June 15, 1998, meeting before the closing of the public hearing at which such minutes were adopted.
3. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
[t]he votes of each member of any public agency upon any issue before such public agency shall be reduced to writing and made available for public inspection within forty-eight hours and shall also be recorded in the minutes of the session at which taken, which minutes shall be available for public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer.
4. With regard to the allegation found in paragraph 2a, above, at the hearing on this matter, the respondents admitted that it failed to have the minutes of its May 18, 1998, meeting available for public inspection within the required statutory period.
5. With regard to the allegation found in paragraph 2b, above, it is found that the votes of each member of the respondent commission are recorded in the minutes of the respondents May 18, 1998 meeting as required by the statute.
6. With regard to the allegation found in paragraph 2c, above, it is found that the FOI Act does not require that a member of a public agency give a reason for their vote or that such reason be recorded in the minutes.
7. With regard to the allegations found in paragraph 2d and 2g, above, it is found the complainant does not allege a violation under the FOI Act.
8. With regard to the allegations found in paragraph 2e and 2f, above, it is found that there is no substantive omission from the minutes of the respondents June 29, 1998, meeting minutes and that such minutes fairly apprise the members of the public of the actions taken at such meeting.
9. With regard to the allegation described in paragraph 2h, above, it is found that the FOI Act does not require that a public agency allow a member of the public to speak or in any other way participate in a public meeting.
10. It is concluded that the respondents violated § 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to make available for public inspection the minutes of their May 18, 1998, meeting within seven days.
11. The commission declines to make null and void any votes taken by the respondent commission.
12. Based upon the evidence in this case the Commission also declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondents but in view of this Commissions decision in Docket #FIC 1992-203, any repeated violation of the minutes requirements of § 1-21(a), G.S., will be dealt with more harshly.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. Henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the minutes provisions of § 1-21(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 10, 1999.
Melanie R. Balfour
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:
Thomas J. Doyle
181 Sherwood Road
Bristol, CT 06010-9013
Chairman, Inland Wetlands
Commission, City of Bristol;
and Inland Wetlands Commission,
City of Bristol
c/o Atty. Dean B. Kilbourne
Assistant Corporation Counsel
111 North Main Street
Bristol, CT 06010
Melanie R. Balfour
Acting Clerk of the Commission