FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Chuck Bezio,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-244

Board of Selectmen,

Town of Litchfield,

 
  Respondent May 11, 2005
       

  

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 15, 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 e-mail dated and filed on May 27, 2004, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information [hereinafter “FOI”] Act on or about May 19, 2004, by voting on a matter without filing an agenda and providing the public with notice that such vote would take place, and conducting an emergency telephone vote when no emergency existed.  The complainant requested that the decision of the Board of Finance, Town of Litchfield [hereinafter “BOF”], made on May 19, 2004, be declared null and void.  

 

            3.  Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:  “[t]he meetings of all public agencies…shall be open to the public….

 

            4.  Section 1-225(d), G.S., provides in relevant part that:  “[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…clerk of …[the municipality] for any public agency….”

 

5.  Section 1-200(2), G.S., in relevant part defines “meeting” to mean “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…”.

 

6.   It is found that, prior to May 19, 2004, the respondent submitted a budget to the BOF, at which point the BOF had control of such budget. 

 

7.  It is found that, the BOF conducted a meeting on the budget on May 19, 2004, and that, prior to such meeting on such date, a member of the BOF telephoned the First Selectman of Litchfield.  It is also found that during such telephone conversation, the BOF member and the First Selectman discussed the possibility that the BOF might not pass the budget at the May 19, 2004, meeting, and further discussed specific line items that might be cut in such event. 

 

8.  It is found that after the conversation described in paragraph 7, above, the First Selectman telephoned other members of the respondent board and informed them of such conversation, and also informed them of likely line items which might be cut should the budget fail to pass at the BOF meeting.  It is found that such conversations were informative, rather than deliberative in nature, and that the respondent board did not conduct a vote during such conversations.

 

9.  The complainant contends that the series of conversations between the First Selectman and other selectmen as described in paragraph 8, above, constituted a meeting, within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S., from which the public was excluded, as described in the complaint herein.

 

10.  However, it is found that the respondent no longer had supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power over the budget on May 19, 2004. 

 

11.  It is found that the series of conversations among the members of the respondent as described in paragraph 8, above, did not constitute communication by or to a quorum of the respondent, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the respondent had supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.   It is also found that such series of conversations did not constitute a hearing or other proceeding of the respondent, or a convening or assembly of a quorum of the respondent.  It is therefore concluded that such series of conversations did not constitute a “meeting” within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S.

 

12.  It is concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act, 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 May 11, 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:

 

Chuck Bezio

1266 New Litchfield Street

Torrington, CT 06790

 

Board of Selectmen,

Town of Litchfield

c/o Paul S. Tagatac, Esq.

93 Oak Street

Hartford, CT 06106

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-244FD/paj/5/13/2005