FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Victor Boronkay,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-009

Board of Selectmen,

Town of New Fairfield,

 
  Respondent November 10, 2004
       

 

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 26, 2004, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.   For purposes of hearing, this matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2004-038; Victor Boronkay v. Board of Selectmen, Town of New Fairfield

 

            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.  It is found that the New Fairfield Board of Finance [hereinafter “BOF”] met on December 17, 2003, and that all three members of the respondent were in attendance at such meeting.  It is also found that during such meeting, the BOF addressed a controversial issue involving the manner in which services were rendered by the town’s counsel, as well as the manner in which such counsel collected his fees.  It is further found that, during the public comment portion of such meeting, all three members of the respondent voiced their support of the town counsel.  It is further found that, shortly thereafter, the BOF voted to recommend dismissal of the town counsel to the respondent. 

 

3.  It is found that, on December 24, 2003, the local New Fairfield weekly newspaper was published and contained an article which reported that the first selectman stated on December 18, 2003, that she had met with the two other selectmen, and quoted her as stating that the respondent has “full faith in [the town counsel] and we will be retaining them as town counsel.”

 

4.  It is found that, based upon the article described in paragraph 3, above, the complainant filed the complaint in this matter, as set forth in paragraph 5, below.

 

5.  By letter dated January 6, 2004, and filed with the Commission on January 8, 2004, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by conducting an illegal meeting which was never properly posted when its members had the conversation described in paragraph 3, above. 

 

6.   Section 1-225, G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

“(a) [t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, shall be open to the public.”

 

“(d) [n]otice of each special meeting of every public agency…shall be given not less than twenty-four hours prior to the time of such meeting by filing a notice of the time and place thereof in the office of the…[town] clerk….” 

 

7.  Section 1-200(2), G.S., defines “meeting” to include:

 

“…any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency, and any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.  ‘Meeting’ shall not include: any chance meeting, or a social meeting neither planned nor intended for the purpose of discussing matters relating to official business….”

 

8.  It is found that, on December 18, 2003, the Town of New Fairfield sponsored its annual employee luncheon in town hall and that the first selectman invited the other two selectmen to attend such event.  It is further found that, during such event, all three selectmen were on line for food and that, at such time, one selectman commented that it was unusual for all three to be on the same page, or words to that effect, regarding the controversy at the BOF meeting the previous evening, and that the other two selectmen agreed with such comment.  It is further found that such was the extent of the conversation described in paragraph 3, above.   

 

9.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant contended that the conversation described in paragraphs 3 and 8, above, constituted an assembly of a quorum of the respondent to discuss or act upon a matter over which the respondent has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power, within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S.  The respondent contended that such conversation was a social meeting neither planned nor intended for the purpose of discussing matters relating to official business.

 

10.  It is found that the conversation described in paragraphs 3 and 8, above, consisted of a momentary exchange commenting on statements made in public at the previous night’s BOF meeting, and did not constitute a discussion of a matter over which the respondent has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power, within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S.  It is further found that such conversation constituted a social meeting neither planned nor intended for the purpose of discussing matters relating to official business, within the meaning 1-200(2), G.S.  

 

11.  It is concluded that the conversation described in paragraphs 3 and 8, above, was not a “meeting” within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S., and that therefore, the respondent did not violate 1-225(a) and 1-225(d), G.S., 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 November 10, 2004.

 

________________________________

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:

 

Victor Boronkay

c/o Thomas W. Beecher, Esq.

148 Deer Hill Avenue

PO Box 440

Danbury, CT 06813-0440

 

Board of Selectmen,

Town of New Fairfield

Town Hall

Four Brush Hill Road

New Fairfield, CT 06812

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-009FD/paj/11/12/2004