FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Robert R. Coty, Catherine B. Dangona,

Lycurgus M. Davey, Terry Donovan,

Gregory H. Gernhardt, Peter Kalousdian,

Abdul Khaliq, Mujeeb Khalique, Barbara J.

Masters, Henry W. Nozko, Jr., Mary Smith

and Ronald Tenay,

 
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-425

Paula Satmary, President, Board of Governors,

Cornfield Point Association; Lewis Perry,

Vice-President, Board of Governors, Cornfield

Point Association; Cathryn Flanagan, Secretary,

Board of Governors, Cornfield Point Association;

Donald Olivieri, Treasurer, Board of Governors,

Cornfield Point Association; Ken Anderson,

Donald Brewer, Joanne Civitillo, Tedd Levy,

Donald Ranaudo, as members, Board of Governors,

Cornfield Point Association; and Board of

Governors, Cornfield Point Association,

 
  Respondents August 8, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 10 and November 8, 2006, at which times the complainants and respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, the above-captioned matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2006-498, Susan Case and James Downey v. Board of Governors, Cornfield Point Association.

 

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

1.      The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      By letter dated and filed on August 22, 2006, the complainants appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by:

a.       violating the stipulation agreement that led to the withdrawal of the complaint in Docket #FIC 2005-507, Ronald Tenay and Peter Kalousdian v. Paula Satmary, President, Board of Governors, Cornfield Point Association; Lewis Perry, Vice-President, Board of Governors, Cornfield Point Association; Cathryn Flanagan, Secretary, Board of Governors, Cornfield Point Association; Donald Olivieri, Treasurer, Board of Governors, Cornfield Point Association; Ken Anderson, Donald Brewer, Joanne Civitillo, Tedd Levy, and Donald Ranaudo, as members, Board of Governors, Cornfield Point Association; and Board of Governors, Cornfield Point Association (hereinafter “Docket #FIC 2005-507”);

 

b.      failing to mail notice of the continuation of the respondent Cornfield Point Association’s (hereinafter “respondent Association”) July 8, 2006 special meeting in accordance with the respondent Association’s charter provisions;

 

c.       failing to specify the time and place in the order of adjournment of the July 8, 2006 special meeting in violation of 1-228, G.S.;

 

d.      mandating that a final vote on the entire proposed charter, as amended, be taken at an August 26, 2006 meeting, even though the members of the respondent Association voted on July 8, 2006 to have a separate meeting for the final vote on the charter revisions; and

 

e.       delaying the continuation of the July 8, 2006 Special meeting to August 26, 2006, when many of the Cornfield Point summer residents have left Old Saybrook for their regular residence, which wrongfully denied those members the right to attend the continued special meeting in violation of 1-206, G.S.

 

The complainants requested the imposition of a one thousand dollar civil penalty against each of the named respondents and that the August 26, 2006 special meeting, and actions taken at it, be declared null and void.

 

3.      It is found that all the named parties in the above-captioned matter own property in the Cornfield Point section of Old Saybrook, Connecticut and as owners, are members of the respondent association.

 

4.      It is found that a nine-member board governs the respondent association (hereinafter “board of governors”).

 

5.       It is found that pursuant to a vote of the respondent association membership, the charter revision committee of the respondent association submitted its charter revision proposals to the board of governors on or about September 26, 2005. 

 

6.      It is found that two of the members of the respondent association’s charter revision committee filed a complaint with the Commission alleging that the respondent association had committed certain violations of the FOI Act.

 

7.      It is found that the complaint described in paragraph 6, above, was docketed as Docket #FIC 2005-507.

 

8.      It is found, however, that the complaint described in paragraphs 6 and 7, above, was withdrawn pursuant to an agreement reached between the parties and before a hearing was held in the matter.

 

9.      With respect to the complainants’ allegation described in paragraph 2a, above, it is found that the parties voluntarily entered into a settlement agreement in the resolution of their dispute in Docket #FIC 2005-507.

 

10.   The Commission does have jurisdiction with respect to the terms of the settlement agreement reached and upon which the withdrawal was predicated.

 

11.  The Commission finds that the settlement agreement upon which the withdrawal was predicated was not violated.

 

12.   With respect to the allegation described in paragraphs 2b and 2d, above, it is found that the complainants have not alleged a violation of the FOI Act and such allegations will not be addressed herein.

 

13.   With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2c, above, 1-228, G.S., provides that:

 

The public agency may adjourn any regular or special meeting to a time and place specified in the order of adjournment . . . A copy of the order or notice of adjournment shall be conspicuously posted on or near the door of the place where the regular or special meeting was held, within twenty-four hours after the time of the adjournment. 

 

14.   It is found that the respondent association held a special meeting on July 8, 2006 which meeting was called to order at 9:12 on that morning and adjourned at approximately 12:40 on that afternoon.

 

15.   It is found that the respondent association noticed a separate meeting to be held on August 26, 2006 to continue the business it did not complete at the July 8, 2006 meeting.

 

16.   It is found that the respondent caused the notice of the August 26, 2006 special meeting to be published in the newspaper, posted on its bulletin board and had the notice mailed to its members on August 15, 2006.

 

17.   It is found that the continuation of business from one noticed meeting to a subsequent noticed meeting does not automatically invoke the requirements found in 1-228, G.S., nor does the use of the word “adjourn” which is used regularly by the respondent association to indicate that its meetings have concluded.

 

18.   It is further found that the provisions in 1-228, G.S., are permissive and do not apply to the facts and circumstances of this case. 

 

19.   It is found that the respondent association did not issue an “order of adjournment” within the meaning of 1-228, G.S., at its July 8, 2006 special meeting but rather concluded that meeting with the intention to continue the business being conducted at a subsequent special meeting, which would be noticed at a later date.

 

20.   It is found, therefore, that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, the provisions of 1-228, G.S., are not applicable and it is concluded that the respondents have not violated the FOI Act in that regard.

 

21.   It is found that the respondent association issued a notice for a separate special meeting on August 26, 2006, in accordance with the provisions of 1-225(d), G.S., as described in paragraphs 15 through 17, above.

 

22.   It is found, therefore, that the provisions of 1-225(d), G.S., are applicable in this regard, however, the complainants did not allege a violation of 1-225(d), G.S., in this complaint and compliance with that provision will not be addressed herein.

 

23.   With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2e, above, 1-206, G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

(b)(1) Any person  . . . wrongfully denied the right to attend any meeting of a public agency . . . may appeal therefrom to the Freedom of Information Commission, by filing a notice of appeal with said Commission . . . .

 

24.   It is found that the provisions in that section are not rights conferred by the provision of the FOI Act. 

 

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

 

26.   It is found that the respondent association did not preclude any member of the public, or of the respondent association, from attending or otherwise being privy to the discussions and deliberations of the August 26, 2006 special meeting.

 

27.   It is found that the FOI Act does not require a public agency to set the date and time of its meetings in a manner that ensures the attendance of members of the public, or even members of the public agency, beyond providing notice pursuant to 1-225, G.S.  It is also found that the FOI Act does not require a public agency to set the date and time of its meetings in a manner that ensures that it is convenient for interested parties to attend, even if those parties are members of the public agency, beyond providing notice pursuant to 1-225, G.S.

 

28.   It is found that the respondent association did not violate the FOI Act in scheduling the August 26, 2006 special meeting.

 

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 August 8, 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:

Robert R. Coty, Catherine B. Dangona,

Lycurgus M. Davey, Terry Donovan,

Gregory H. Gernhardt, Peter Kalousdian,

Abdul Khaliq, Mujeeb Khalique, Barbara J.

Masters, Henry W. Nozko, Jr., Mary Smith

and Ronald Tenay

c/o Terry Donovan, Esq.

PO Box 554

Old Saybrook, CT 06475

 

Paula Satmary, President, Board of Governors,

Cornfield Point Association; Lewis Perry,

Vice-President, Board of Governors, Cornfield

Point Association; Cathryn Flanagan, Secretary,

Board of Governors, Cornfield Point Association;

Donald Olivieri, Treasurer, Board of Governors,

Cornfield Point Association; Ken Anderson,

Donald Brewer, Joanne Civitillo, Tedd Levy,

Donald Ranaudo, as members, Board of Governors,

Cornfield Point Association; and Board of

Governors, Cornfield Point Association

c/o Kenneth H. Antin, Esq.

Poliner, Poliner, Antin & Cienava Rocco, PC

516 Main Street

Middletown, CT 06457

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2006-425FD/paj/8/14/2007