FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Arthur E. Bondy,|
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-366|
|President, Northeast Communities
Against Substance Abuse, Inc.; and Board
of Directors, Northeast Communities
Against Substance Abuse, Inc.,
|Respondents||May 12, 1999|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 26, 1999, 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 has been amended to correctly identify the respondents.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. By letter dated November 18, 1998, and filed with the Commission November 19, 1998, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (hereinafter "FOI") Act by improperly excluding him from a meeting of the respondents held on November 16, 1998.
2. At the hearing in this matter, the respondents contended that they are not functional equivalents of public agencies and, thus, are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission.
3. Section 1-200(1), G.S. [formerly § 1-18a(1), G.S.], in relevant part, defines a "public agency" to mean:
any executive, administrative or legislative office of the state or any political subdivision of the state and any state or town agency, any department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official of the state or of any city, town, borough, municipal corporation, school district, regional district 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 .
4. The test for determining whether an entity is the functional equivalent of a public agency within the meaning of § 1-200(1), G.S. [formerly § 1-18a(1), G.S.], is outlined in Board of Trustees of Woodstock Academy v. FOI Commission, 181 Conn. 544, 554 (1980), and consists of the following four criteria: (1) whether the entity performs a governmental function; (2) the level of government funding; (3) the extent of government involvement or regulation; and (4) whether the entity was created by government.
5. Based upon Connecticut Humane Society v. FOI Commission, 218 Conn. 757, 761 (1991), all four factors in Woodstock, above, are not necessary for a finding of functional equivalence, but rather "all relevant factors are to be considered cumulatively, with no single factor being essential or conclusive."
6. It is found that the respondents are officials of the Northeast Communities Against Substance Abuse, Inc. (hereinafter "Northeast").
7. With respect to the first criterion of the functional equivalence test (governmental function), it is found that Northeast is a private non-profit Connecticut corporation whose mission is to assess the needs of a 21 town area with respect to the field of substance abuse; to establish and implement an action plan to develop and coordinate services in such field; and to advocate for resources needed to accomplish such plans.
8. It is concluded that Northeast does not perform a governmental function.
9. With respect to the second criterion of the functional equivalence test (level of government funding), it is found that Northeast receives approximately 80% of its funding from government sources. It is therefore concluded that Northeast receives substantial government funds.
10. With respect to the third criterion of the functional equivalence test (extent of government involvement or regulation), it is found that Northeast is self-directed by the respondent board, which consists of volunteers who are not government officials. It is further found that Northeast is subject to the laws of Connecticut to the same extent as other non-profit corporations bound by state contract.
11. It is concluded that Northeast is not subject to substantial governmental involvement or regulation.
12. With respect to the fourth criterion of the functional equivalence test (whether the entity was created by government), it is found that Northeast was organized in 1990 by three individuals who were interested in substance abuse issues.
13. It is concluded that Northeast was not created by government.
14. Based on the foregoing, it is concluded that Northeast is not the functional equivalent of a public agency within the meaning of § 1-200(1), G.S. [formerly § 1-18a(1), G.S.], and that the respondents are not bound by the provisions of the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.
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 May 12, 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:
Arthur E. Bondy
191 Sherman Road
Woodstock, CT 06281
Substance Abuse, Inc.;
and Board of Directors,
Against Substance Abuse, Inc.
c/o Atty. Richard S. Cody
21 East Main Street
Mystic, CT 06355
Melanie R. Balfour
Acting Clerk of the Commission