FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Pete Holmberg and Bethel Volunteer

Fire Department Inc.,

 
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2005-105
Board of Selectmen, Town of Bethel,  
  Respondent September 14, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 11, 2005, at which time the complainants 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 March 2, 2005 and filed on March 4, 2005, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying him access to attend a February 8, 2005 meeting held in the office of the First Selectman of the town of Bethel (hereinafter “First Selectman”).

 

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 1-200(2), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

“Meeting” means 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” does not include . . . an administrative or staff meeting of a single-member public agency . . . .” 

 

5.      It is found that the First Selectman scheduled a February 8, 2005 meeting to be held in her office to discuss paramedic service issues related to the towns of Bethel and Redding.  It is found that it was the First Selectman’s intention to have the Region 5 EMS coordinator, Bob Corrigan, explain to her, and the first selectmen of Redding, the common paramedic services issues and how to make certain applications to the State.  It is found that she scheduled the meeting with three people: Dan Spinella, her advisor on paramedic issues and a member of the Bethel Fire Department; Bob Corrigan, Region 5 EMS coordinator; and Natalie Ketcham, First Selectman of Redding.  It is also found that the First Selectman suggested to Natalie Ketcham that she bring her own advisor to the meeting.

 

6.      It is found that Bob Corrigan, Linda Main (who substituted for Dan Spinella), Natalie Ketcham and five other individuals, who were invited to attend the meeting by Natalie Ketcham and were members of the Bethel Redding Paramedic Alliance (hereinafter “BRPA”), attended the meeting of February 8, 2005.  

 

7.      It is found that no members of the respondent board, except the First Selectman, attended the meeting of February 8, 2005.

 

8.      It is found that during the February 8, 2005 meeting, the members of the BRPA conducted a meeting and voted to elect a president and ratify by-laws. 

 

9.      It is found that the First Selectman did not intend, nor was she aware, that the BRPA would conduct a meeting during her meeting and vote as described in paragraph 8, above.

 

10.   It is also found that during the February 8, 2005 meeting the First Selectman was acting in an administrative capacity as chief executive officer of the town of Bethel.

 

11.   It is also found that when the First Selectman acts in an administrative capacity as chief executive officer of the town, she is a “single-member public agency”, within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S.

 

12.   It is found, therefore, that under the specific facts of this case, the February 8, 2005 meeting constituted “an administrative meeting of a single-member public agency”, within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S., and was not meeting of the respondent board. 

 

13.   Consequently, it is concluded that the February 8, 2005 meeting is excluded from the open meeting provisions of 1-225(a), G.S., and the respondent board did not violate such provisions. 

 

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 September 14, 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:

 

            Pete Holmberg and Bethel Volunteer

Fire Department Inc.

38 South Street

Bethel, CT 06801

 

Board of Selectmen,

Town of Bethel

c/o Martin J. Lawlor, Jr., Esq.

99 Greenwood Avenue

Bethel, CT 06801

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2005-105FD/paj/9/20/2005