OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Wesley S. Lubee, Jr.,|
|against||Docket #FIC 2002-127|
|Town Council, Town of Wallingford,|
|Respondents||September 25, 2002|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 25, 2002, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Following the close of the hearing, the complainant submitted additional documents as exhibits. Such documents were not considered by the Hearing Officer as a part of the record in this matter.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint dated March 18, 2002, and filed on March 20, 2002, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by:
a. failing to give proper notice of a continued public hearing held on March 12, 2002;
b. failing to permit the public to speak at such continued public hearing; and
c. failing to give proper notice of the continued public hearing held on March 12, 2002, pursuant to the Charter of the Town of Wallingford.
3. It is found that on February 26, 2002, the respondent held a regular meeting during which it held a public hearing on, and discussed, a proposed noise ordinance (hereinafter “ordinance”).
4. It is also found that during the public hearing described in paragraph 3, above, the public was invited to speak regarding the ordinance. It is further found that such public hearing was continued until the respondent’s March 12, 2002 regular meeting (hereinafter “continued public hearing”).
5. Section 1-229, G.S., provides in relevant part:
Any hearing being held, or noticed or ordered to be held, by the public agency at any meeting may by order or notice of continuance be continued or recontinued to any subsequent meeting of such agency in the same manner and to the same extent set forth in section 1-228, for the adjournment of meeting….
6. Section 1-228, G.S., in turn, provides in relevant part:
The public agency may adjourn any regular or special meeting to a time and place specified in the order of adjournment…A copy of the order or notice of adjournment shall be conspicuously posted on or near the door of the place where the regular or special meeting was held, within twenty-four hours after the time of the adjournment. When an order of adjournment of any meeting fails to state the hour at which the adjourned meeting is to be held, it shall be held at the hour specified for regular meetings, by ordinance, resolution, by law or other rule.
7. Section 1-225(c), G.S., provides in relevant part:
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….
8. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant contended that with respect to the continued public hearing, the respondent violated §§1-229 and 1-228, G.S., by failing to conspicuously post a copy of the notice of continuance on or near the door of the place where the February 26, 2002 regular meeting was held, within twenty-four hours after the time of such continuance.
9. It is found that on March 6, 2002, the respondent filed an agenda for the March 12, 2002 meeting and the continued public hearing to be held on that date. It is found that the agenda listed the following item: “CONTINUANCE OF A PUBLIC HEARING TO Consider Adoption of a Proposed Ordinance Entitled, ‘Noise Ordinance’.” It is found that such notice fairly apprised the public of the business to be transacted at the March 12, 2002 public hearing and therefore complies with the notice and agenda provisions of §1-225(c), G.S.
10. It is further found, however, that the respondent failed to conspicuously post a copy of the order or notice of continuance on or near the door of the place where the February 26, 2002 regular meeting was held within twenty-four hours after the time of the continuance, and therefore violated §§1-228 and 1-229, G.S.
11. With respect to the allegation that the public was not permitted to speak at the March 12, 2002 public hearing as described in paragraph 2b, above, it is found that the complainant has not alleged any conduct on the part of the respondent that even if proved, would violate the FOI Act. Although public participation is laudable and in keeping with the spirit of the FOI Act, there is no provision in the FOI Act that confers upon the public the right to speak at a meeting. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act as alleged in the complaint.
12. With respect to the allegation discussed in paragraph 2c, above, that the respondent violated Chapter III, Section 6 of the Charter of the Town of Wallingford, by failing to give proper notice of the continued public hearing held on March 12, 2002, it is concluded that this Commission lacks jurisdiction to address whether the Wallingford Town Charter was violated. This Commission’s jurisdiction is limited to addressing violations of the FOI Act only.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. With respect to the allegations as described in paragraph 2a of the findings, above, henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the provisions of §§1-229 and 1-228, G.S.
2. With respect to the allegations as described in paragraphs 2b and 2c of the findings, above, the complaint is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 25, 2002.
Petrea A. Jones
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:
Town Council, Town of
c/o Gerald E. Farrell, Sr., Esq.
Assistant Town Attorney
45 South Main Street
Wallingford, CT 06492
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission