FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by
|Docket #FIC 2006-386
Board of Selectmen,
Town of Stonington,
|April 25, 2007
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 30, 2006, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared 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.
2. By letter dated July 24, 2006, and filed on July 28, 2006, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to describe the business to be transacted at its June 28, 2006 regular meeting, and by failing to add such business to its agenda by a two-thirds vote. Specifically, the complainant alleged that the agenda should have included the names of specific boards and commissions under consideration for appointments.
3. Section 1-225(c), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
The agenda of the regular meetings of every public agency . . . shall be available to the public and shall be filed, not less than twenty-four hours before the meetings to which they refer, in such agency's regular office or place of business . . . Upon the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of a public agency present and voting, any subsequent business not included in such filed agendas may be considered and acted upon at such meetings.
4. It is found that the agenda of the respondent’s June 28, 2006 regular meeting included the following item:
“7. Re/Appointments Boards and Commissions
a. Retirement Committee.”
5. It is found that, at the respondent’s June 28, 2006, regular meeting, the respondent board unanimously voted to make appointments to the town’s Retirement Committee. It is also found that, at such meeting, the respondent board unanimously voted to make appointments to the town’s Recreation Commission, Waterfront Commission, and Permanent Committee to Study the Needs and Use of Town Public Buildings, Including Town Hall Facilities (hereinafter “the other public agencies”). It is further found the respondent board did not vote to add appointments to the other public agencies to the agenda of such meeting.
6. It is found that it has been the practice of the respondent board to simply list “Re/Appointments Boards and Commissions” as items on its agendas, and that such board typically made appointments to a variety of boards and commissions under such agenda items over the years. It is also found that the only reason the sub-item “a. Retirement Committee” was added to the agenda of the respondent’s June 28, 2006, regular meeting was because of a specific request of a member of such committee.
7. In Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Plainfield, et al. v. FOIC et al., Superior Court, Docket No. CV 99-0497917-S, Judicial District of New Britain, Memorandum of Decision dated May 3, 2000 (Satter, J.), reversed on other grounds, 66 Conn. App. 279 (2001), the court observed that one purpose of a meeting agenda “is that the public and interested parties be apprised of matters to be taken up at the meeting in order to properly prepare and be present to express their views,” and that “[a] notice is proper only if it fairly and sufficiently apprises the public of the action proposed, making possible intelligent preparation for participation in the hearing.”
8. At the hearing on this matter, the respondent contended that the outcome of this case is controlled by the Commission’s Final Decision in Docket #FIC 2005-280, David LeBlanc v. Town Council, Town of Watertown. In that case, the complainant argued that because the agenda did not include the name(s) of the individual(s) under consideration for appointment to certain boards and commissions, nor the name of the board or commission to which the appointment would be made, it did not fairly and sufficiently apprise the public of the business to be transacted at the meeting. The Commission rejected that argument and concluded that under the facts and circumstances of that case, the agenda item fairly apprised the public of the business to be transacted.
9. It is found that LeBlanc is factually distinguishable from the present case. In that case, the Commission found that at its April 2005 regular meeting, the respondent discussed the appointment of Mr. Mark Tedesco to the Planning and Zoning Commission (“P&ZC”), but took no action. The item was then tabled. At the May 2005 regular meeting, the agenda of which was at issue, there was public comment concerning Mr. Tedesco’s appointment, then the respondent discussed and voted on Mr. Tedesco’s appointment to the P&ZC. In that case, therefore, the public had notice, prior to the May 2005 meeting, of the name of the individual whose appointment was to be discussed and voted on at the May 2005 meeting.
10. In the present case, the respondent board did not present evidence that it had indicated to the public at a prior meeting that appointments to the other public agencies would be considered at the June 28, 2006, meeting.
11. Based upon the facts and circumstances of this case, it is concluded that the respondent violated §1-225(c), G.S., as alleged in the complaint.
12. At the hearing in this matter, the respondent board informed the Commission that it has changed its policy regarding agenda items, and will now as a matter of course indicate the specific boards and commissions to be addressed at upcoming meetings.
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 vote by two-thirds majority to add agenda items to the agendas of its regular meetings, prior to considering such items, as required by §1-225(c), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 25, 2007.
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:
141 Elm Street
Stonington, CT 06378
Board of Selectmen,
Town of Stonington
c/o Jeffrey T. Londregan, Esq.
Conway & Londregan, P.C.
PO Box 1351
New London, CT 06320
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission