FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Thomas D. Williams and

the Hartford Courant,

 
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-178

State of Connecticut,

Office of Labor Relations,

 
  Respondent February 9, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 2, 2004 and October 14, 2004, at which times the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  At the hearing on this matter, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 4 requested and was granted intervenor status in these proceedings.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

1.      It is found that a grievance arbitration hearing related to Mr. Gary E. Gallo (hereinafter “the hearing”) was conducted on April 13, 2004, by an arbitrator (hereinafter “the arbitrator”), and that the parties to such hearing were the State of Connecticut, which was represented by the respondent office, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 4 (hereinafter “the union”).

 

2.      It is found that the complainant, Thomas Williams, was present at the time the hearing was convened, but was asked by a representative of the union to leave.

 

3.      By letter dated and filed on April 13, 2004, the complainants appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying Mr. Williams access to the hearing. 

 

4.      At the hearing on this matter, the respondent argued that the hearing was not a meeting of the respondent Office of Labor Relations, but rather, a meeting of the arbitrator, and, consequently, that the respondent cannot be held accountable for any FOI Act violations which may have occurred at such hearing.

 

5.      The complainants contend that the hearing was a meeting pursuant to the FOI Act and, consequently, it should have been open to the public and Mr. Williams should have been permitted to attend. 

 

6.      Section 1-200(1), G.S., in relevant part defines “public agency” as:

 

(A)     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, and also includes any judicial office, official or body or committee thereof but only in respect to its or their administrative functions;

 

and

 

(B)      Any person to the extent such person is deemed to be the functional equivalent of a public agency pursuant to law.

 

7.      Section 1-200(11), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

“Governmental function” means the administration or management of a program of a public agency, which program has been authorized by law to be administered or managed by a person, where (A) the person receives funding from the public agency for administering or managing the program, (B) the public agency is involved in or regulates to a significant extent such person’s administration or management of the program, whether or not such involvement or regulation is direct, pervasive, continuous or day-to-day, and (C) the person participates in the formulation of governmental policies or decisions in connection with the administration or management of the program and such policies or decisions bind the public agency.  “Governmental function” shall not include the mere provision of goods or services to a public agency without the delegated responsibility to administer or manage a program of a public agency. 

 

8.      Section 1-200(2), G.S., in relevant part 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….

 

9.      It is found that, pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement between the respondent and the union, when alleged violations or disputes involving the application or interpretation of a specific provision the collective bargaining agreement remain unresolved, they must submit to arbitration.

 

10.  It is found that a specific arbitrator is selected on a rotational basis from a mutually agreed upon arbitration panel.

 

11.   It is found that the expenses for the arbitrator’s services and for the hearing are shared equally by the respondent and the union.

 

12.  It is found that the arbitrator selected to preside over the grievance arbitration hearing related to Mr. Gary E. Gallo was a Marcia L. Greenbaum. 

 

13.  It is found that the arbitrator is an independent agent contracted with the respondent and the union to provide a service and is not an agent of the respondent.

 

14.  It is concluded that the hearing was not a meeting of the respondent Office of Labor Relations, but rather a meeting of the arbitrator.  Accordingly, the respondent can not be held accountable for any FOI Act violation which might have occurred at such hearing.

 

15.  It is further concluded that respondent did not violate the 1-225(a), G.S., as alleged by the complainant.

 

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 February 9, 2005.

 

________________________________

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:

 

Thomas D. Williams and

The Hartford Courant

373 East Main Street

Middletown, CT 06457

 

State of Connecticut,

Office of Labor Relations

c/o Gareth Bye, Esq. and

Anthony L. Lazzaro, Jr., Esq.

Office of Policy and Management

450 Capitol Avenue

Hartford, CT 06106-1308

 

American Federation of State, County and

Municipal Employees, Council 4

c/o J. William Gagne, Jr., Esq.

1260 Silas Deane Highway

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-178FD/paj/2/14/2005