FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2008-396|
Committee of the Whole,
City of Groton,
|Respondent||May 13, 2009|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 25, 2008, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The case caption has been amended to reflect the accurate name of the respondent committee. For purposes of hearing, the matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2008-371; Daniel Tompkins v. Mayor, City of Groton; and Committee of the Whole, City of Groton; and Docket #FIC 2008-453, Daniel D. Tompkins v. Mayor, City of Groton; and City of Groton.
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. By letter dated June 9, 2008, and filed with the Commission on June 11, 2008, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (hereinafter “FOI”) Act by discussing a matter at its meeting of May 27, 2008, which was not on the agenda for such meeting.
3. Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “. . . [t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions, as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, shall be open to the public.”
4. Section 1-200(2), G.S., further provides 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 … to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.
5. Section 1-225, G.S., provides in relevant part that:
(c) 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 or, if there is no such office or place of business . . . in the office of the clerk of such subdivision for any public agency of a political subdivision of the state…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…
6. It is found that, on May 27, 2008, the respondents conducted a regular meeting, for which an agenda was timely filed, within the meaning of §1-225(c), G.S.
7. It is found that, during the May 27, 2008 meeting, an auditor from the firm of Kostin & Ruffkess addressed the respondent regarding an audit of the city which was being conducted. It is found that members of the respondent asked questions of the auditor regarding the audit during the presentation, which lasted approximately thirty minutes. It is found that the presentation was conducted in open session.
8. It is found that the auditor’s presentation was not on the agenda of the May 27, 2008 meeting. At the hearing in this matter, the mayor of Groton, who is a member of the respondent, testified that the auditor’s presentation should have been on the agenda, that it had been a continuing agenda item on previous agendas, and that it had been inadvertently dropped from the agenda for May 27, 2008, due to clerical error.
9. At the hearing in this matter, the respondent stipulated it violated the FOI Act and that what it ought to have done was vote by two-thirds majority to add the auditor’s presentation described in paragraph 7, above, to the agenda of the May 27, 2008 meeting. The respondent pledged to follow the notice requirements of the FOI Act, and to more carefully check its agendas, in the future.
10. It is concluded that the respondent violated §1-225, G.S., 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 notice requirements set forth in §1-225, G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May l3, 2009.
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:
Committee of the Whole
City of Groton
C/o Matthew Shafner, Esq.
Suisman, Shapiro, Wool, Brennan, Gray & Greenberg, P.C.
2 Union Plaza, Suite 200
P.O. Box 1591
New London, CT 06320
Acting Clerk of the Commission