FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Courtney Anderson,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-490

Board of Commissioners,

Hartford Housing Authority,

City of Hartford,

 
  Respondent October 11, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 18, 2005, 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.  It is found that the respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.  It is further found that the respondent consists of five members and that the complainant is one such member. 

 

2.  It is found that, on October 17, 2004, the complainant sent a memorandum to the chairman of the respondent regarding the respondent’s resolution number 2004-008, in which he disagreed with the chairman’s response to such resolution [hereinafter “the memorandum”]. 

 

3.  It is found that, on October 25, 2004, the chairman distributed a letter to all residents of public housing in Hartford, which responded to the memorandum and which characterized the complainant’s action in sending the memorandum as unethical and unprofessional [hereinafter “the letter”].  It is further found that all four members of the respondent, other than the complainant, signed the letter.

 

4.  By letter of complaint dated and filed on October 25, 2004, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information [hereinafter “FOI”] Act by conducting a secret or unnoticed meeting between October 17, 2004 and October 25, 2004, during which all members of the respondent other than the complainant communicated about the letter.    

 

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

 

6.  Section 1-200(2), G.S., in relevant part, defines meeting to include:

 

any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency … by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.

 

7.  It is found that the chairman of the respondent drafted the letter, then telephoned the three members of the respondent other than the complainant, discussed the letter with each, and asked them to affix their signatures thereto.  It is also found that the letter was then hand-delivered to such board members for signature, and that after four members including the chairman signed the letter, it was distributed to Hartford public housing residents. 

 

8.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondent contended that the respondent board did not actually meet to discuss the letter. 

 

            9.  However, it is found that the telephone discussions described in paragraph 7, above, constituted communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power, within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S.   Accordingly, it is further found that such discussions constituted a meeting of the respondent board that was not open to the public, within the meaning of 1-225(a), G.S. 

 

10.  It is concluded that the respondent violated 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.  Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-225(a), G.S. 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of October 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:

 

Courtney Anderson

140 Hartland Street

Hartford, CT 06112

 

Board of Commissioners,

Hartford Housing Authority,

City of Hartford

c/o Loo Pacacha, Esq.

The Housing Authority of the

City of Hartford

180 Overlook Terrace

Hartford, CT 06106

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-490FD/paj/10/12/2005