FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Paul Hofsess,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1999-041
Sub-Committee for Economic Development
and Revitalization, Town of Vernon; and
Town of Vernon
Respondents August 11, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 23, 1999 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 1-200(1), G.S., (formerly 1-18a(1), G.S.).

        2. By letter of complaint dated February 1, 1999 and filed on February 2, 1999, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent subcommittee violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by:

a. failing to have available on January 19, 1999 the minutes of meetings held during the period May 1998 through January 1999;

b. failing to have available in May, 1998, the minutes of meetings held during the period January 1998 through May 1998;

c. failing to file a schedule of regular meetings for the years 1998 and 1999;

d. failing to have available for public inspection, within seven days of its meetings, the minutes of all of its meetings since its creation in November 1997; and

e. failing to file agendas for meetings within twenty-four hours of all of its meetings.

        3. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2a, above, 1-225(a), G.S., (formerly 1-21(a), G.S.) in relevant part, provides:

minutes shall be available for public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer.

        4. Section 1-210(a), G.S., (formerly 1-19(a), G.S.) further provides:

Each … agency shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place and, if there is no such office or place of business, the public records pertaining to such agency shall be kept in the office of the clerk of the political subdivision in which such public agency is located or of the Secretary of the State, as the case may be.

        5. It is found that on or about January 19, 1999 the complainant visited the town clerk’s office to inspect the respondent committee’s minutes of meetings held during the period May 1998 through January 1999. It is found that no minutes were available at that time for his inspection.

        6. It is found that following a January 20, 1999 letter from the complainant to the mayor, explaining that the minutes were not available at the time of his January 19, 1999 visit to the town clerk’s office, the respondent subcommittee, within a day or two, provided the complainant with a copy of the minutes of meetings held on May 27, June 17 and December 16, 1998. It is found that the three sets of minutes provided to the complainant by the respondent subcommittee comprise all minutes of meetings held by the respondent subcommittee during the period May 1998 and January 1999.

        7. It is concluded however, that the respondent subcommittee violated 1-225(a), G.S., (formerly 1-21(a), G.S.), when it failed to have available for public inspection on January 19, 1999 the minutes of the meetings held on May 27, June 17 and December 16, 1998.

        8. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2b, above, 1-206(b)(1), G.S., (formerly 1-21i(b)(1), G.S.), permits any person denied any right conferred by the FOI Act to appeal to the FOI Commission, by filing a notice of appeal "within thirty days after such denial".

        9. It is concluded that the complainant’s appeal concerning the allegation described in paragraph 2b, above, is beyond the appropriate thirty day jurisdictional period and is therefore, untimely filed. Consequently, the Commission lacks jurisdiction to address such allegation.

        10. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2c, above, 1-225(a), G.S., (formerly 1-21(a), G.S.) provides:

The chairman or secretary of any such public agency of any political subdivision of the state shall file, not later than January thirty-first of each year, with the clerk of such subdivision the schedule of regular meetings of such public agency for the ensuing year, and no such meeting of any such public agency shall be held sooner than thirty days after such schedule has been filed.

The agenda of the regular meetings of every public agency, … shall be available to the public and shall be filed, not less than twenty-four hours before the meetings to which they refer, in such agency's regular office or place of business or, if there is no such office or place of business … in the office of the clerk of such subdivision for any public agency of a political subdivision of the state ….

        11. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2c, above, it is found that the respondent subcommittee has not filed the schedule of regular meetings for the years 1998 and 1999.

        12. It is therefore, concluded that the respondent subcommittee violated 1-225(a), G.S., (formerly 1-21(a), G.S.) by failing to file the schedule of regular meetings for the years 1998 and 1999.

        13. With respect to the allegations described in paragraph 2d and 2e, above, it is found that with the exception of the May 27, June 17 and December 16, 1998 meeting minutes, already discussed in paragraphs 5, 6, and 7, above, the complainant failed to provide evidence of specific requests made by him, no sooner than within thirty days of filing this appeal, and showing that the respondent subcommittee failed to have available for public inspection such minutes. Similarly, the complainant failed to provide evidence of specific requests for agendas of meetings held by the respondent subcommittee, made by him, no sooner than within thirty days of filing this appeal, and that such agendas were not on file within twenty-four hours of the meetings to which they refer.

        14. It is therefore, concluded that the respondent subcommittee did not violate the FOI Act as alleged in paragraphs 2d and 2e, above.

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

        1. Henceforth, the respondent subcommittee shall file the minutes of its meetings with the town clerk’s office within seven days of such meetings, in accordance with the requirements of 1-225(a), G.S., (formerly 1-21(a), G.S.).

        2. Forthwith, the respondent subcommittee shall file a schedule of regular meetings for 1999, if any such meetings are anticipated, in accordance with the requirements of 1-225(a), G.S., (formerly 1-21(a), G.S.).

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of

August 11, 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:

 

Paul Hofsess
708 Hartford Turnpike
Vernon, CT 06066
 

Sub-Committee for Economic Development
and Revitalization, Town of Vernon; and
Town of Vernon
c/o Jerome D. Levine, Esq.
281 Hartford Turnpike
Suite 505
Vernon, CT 06066
 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1999-041FD/mes/08161999