FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Daniel Savage, Jr.,
  Complainant  
  against Docket #FIC 2003-388

Board of Selectmen,

Town of Hebron,

 
  Respondent May 12, 2004
       

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 31, 2004, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

            2.  By letter dated October 28, 2003, and filed October 29, 2003, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information [hereinafter “FOI”] Act by secretly meeting to agree to issue a legal notice in the local newspaper on September 12 and September 19, 2003 which notified the public that the proposed revisions to the town charter published on September 5, 2003 contained an erroneous amount of “one percent of the current year’s town budget”, and should have read “one tenth of one percent of the current year’s town budget. ”    The complainant asked that the Commission impose civil penalties in this matter.  By letter dated and filed November 3, 2003, the complainant alleged that he didn’t have any idea that an allegedly illegal meeting was held until after October 24, 2003, when an article appeared in the local newspaper regarding the correction described herein, and minutes of the respondent were reviewed at town hall. 

 

3.  Section 1-206(b)(1), G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

“Any person denied the right to inspect or copy records under section 1-210 or wrongfully denied the right to attend any meeting of a public agency or denied any other right conferred by the Freedom of Information Act may appeal therefrom to the Freedom of Information Commission, by

 

 

filing a notice of appeal with said commission.  A notice of appeal shall be filed within thirty days after such denial, except in the case of an unnoticed or secret meeting, in which case the appeal shall be filed within thirty days after the person filing the appeal receives notice in fact that such meeting was held….”

 

4.  It is found that the complainant’s belief that the respondent met secretly arose from the publication of the error described in paragraph 2, above.

 

5.  It is found that the error described in paragraph 2, above, was published as a legal notice in the local newspaper on September 12, 2003 and September 19, 2003.  It is also found that the respondent issued a press release regarding such error, which was published in the local newspaper on September 26, 2003.

 

6.  The complainant contends that he did not have actual notice of the alleged secret meeting until after reading a newspaper article regarding the error and conducting subsequent research into the minutes of the respondent.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant contended that such article was published on September 26, 2003, not October 24, 2003, as described in paragraph 2, above.  

 

7.  It is concluded that the statutory standard for subject matter jurisdiction in the case of an allegedly secret or unnoticed meeting is thirty days after the person filing the appeal receives notice in fact that such meeting was held, and not thirty days after such person receives actual notice.

 

8.   It is found that the complainant received notice in fact that the respondent may have conducted a secret or unnoticed meeting on September 12, 2003, which is the date of publication of the first legal notice described in paragraph 5, above.

 

9.   It is found that the notice of appeal in this matter was filed more than thirty days after the complainant received notice in fact that the respondent allegedly conducted an illegal or secret meeting.

 

10.  It is concluded that the Commission lacks subject matter jurisdiction in this matter.

 

            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 for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. 

 

           

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 12, 2004.

 

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

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:

 

Daniel Savage, Jr.

c/o  Maria McKeon, Esq.

117 Senate Brook Drive

Amston, CT  06231 

 

Board of Selectmen,

Town of Hebron

c/o Donald Holtman, Esq.

130 Washington Street

Hartford, CT  06106

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2003-388/FD/mes/05/13/2004