FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2009-177|
Performing Arts Center Board,
Town of Simsbury,
|Respondent||October 28, 2009|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 29, 2009, 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. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. By letter dated March 27, 2009 and filed with the Commission on March 30, 2009, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (hereinafter “FOI”) Act by “neglecting to post their meeting minutes and the agendas.” The complainant also alleged that the respondent “list[s] on the town agenda the meeting, time and date and the minutes never appear of these meetings.” The complainant further alleged that he received a web page containing the error, “404 page not found, reference error code 1081”, in place of particular minutes and agendas, when trying to access such records on the Town of Simsbury’s website.
3. At the hearing in this matter, the complainant alleged that the respondent failed to record in their minutes the discussion and vote on whether the respondent should recommend that the Simsbury Board of Selectmen apply for a permit to allow the Reach Foundation to sell alcohol during a performance at the Simsbury Performance Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows (hereinafter “the Center”). The complainant also alleged that the respondent held “secret meetings, meetings over the phone, and meetings in hallways,” in violation of the FOI Act. The complainant further alleged that the respondent failed to respond to his letter addressed to the Simsbury First Selectman, requesting the names of persons who received forty complimentary tickets and seating at five tables for performances held at the Center.
4. Section 1-225, G.S., provides in relevant part:
(a) Within seven days of the session of which such minutes refer, such minutes shall be available for public inspection and posted on such public agency's Internet web site, if available... (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, and… in the office of the [town] clerk …. (d) Notice of each special meeting of every public agency…. shall be posted not less than twenty-four hours before the meeting to which such notice refers on the public agency's Internet web site, if available, and given not less than twenty-four hours prior to the time of such meeting by filing a notice of the time and place thereof in the office of the…[town] clerk….The notice shall specify the time and place of the special meeting and the business to be transacted…..
5. With respect to the allegations described in paragraph 3, above, it is found that these matters were not fairly raised in the complaint in this case and therefore the Commission shall not further address them herein.
6. As to the complainant’s claim that the respondent neglects to post minutes and agendas on the Town of Simsbury’s website, the complainant specifically claimed that he was unable to access the minutes of the respondent’s June 1, 2009 special meeting within the statutory time required under the FOI Act. The Commission notes that such meeting occurred after the filing of the complaint in this matter.
7. Accordingly, the Commission shall not further address allegations pertaining to the respondent’s June 1, 2009 special meeting, as described in paragraph 6, above.
8. The complainant also claimed that the respondent neglected to post minutes for its November 19, 2008 special meeting.
9. The respondent contends that the Commission lacks subject matter jurisdiction with respect to its November 19, 2008 special meeting, since a complaint was not timely filed by December 19, 2008, pertaining to such meeting.
10. Section 1-206(b)(1), G. S., provides in relevant part that:
[a]ny person denied the right to inspect or copy records under section 1-210 or wrongfully denied the right to attend any meeting of a public agency or denied any other right conferred by the [FOI] Act may appeal therefrom to the [FOI] Commission, by filing a notice of appeal with said commission. A notice of appeal shall be filed within thirty days after such denial, except in the case of an unnoticed or secret meeting, in which case the appeal shall be filed within thirty days after the person filing the appeal receives notice in fact that such meeting was held….
11. It is concluded that the failure to prepare and file minutes is a continuing violation. With respect to the respondent’s November 19, 2008 special meeting, it is concluded that the Commission has subject matter jurisdiction.
12. The respondent concedes that it did not post minutes of its November 19, 2008 meeting on its website.
13. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated the FOI Act by neglecting to post the minutes of its November 19, 2008 meeting on its website. The Commission notes that the requirement that public agencies post minutes on their website was enacted in October 2008.
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 §1-225(d), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 28, 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:
971 Hopmeadow Street
Simsbury, CT 06070
Performing Arts Center Board,
Town of Simsbury
C/o Robert M. DeCrescenzo, Esq.
Updike, Kelly & Spellacy P.C.
One State Street
P.O. Box 231277
Hartford, CT 06123
Acting Clerk of the Commission