FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Bradshaw Smith,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-756

Robert E. Moore, Chief Administrative

Officer, Metropolitan District

Commission; Kristine Shaw, District

Clerk, Metropolitan District Commission; and the

Metropolitan District Commission,

 
  Respondents November 17, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 11, 2010 at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      By letter dated December 14, 2009 and filed on December 15, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to post notice of the respondent Metropolitan District Commission’s (hereinafter “the MDC”) November 16, 2009 meetings on its website and by failing to file notice of the meetings with the Windsor town clerk and thereby held an improperly noticed meeting.  The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty.

 

3.      However, at the hearing on this matter, the respondents moved to have the complaint dismissed, contending that the complaint had not been timely filed and therefore, the Commission lacks jurisdiction over it.

 

4.      Section 1-206(b)(1), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

Any person . . . wrongfully denied the right to attend any meeting of a public agency or denied any other right conferred by the Freedom of Information Act may appeal therefrom to the Freedom of Information Commission, by filing a notice of appeal with said commission.  A notice of appeal shall be filed not later than thirty days after such denial, except in the case of an unnoticed or secret meeting, in which case the appeal shall be filed not later than thirty days after the person filing the appeal receives notice in fact that such meeting was held. 

 

5.      It is found that on November 16, 2009, the MDC, and/or bureaus thereof, held three public hearings.

 

6.      It is found that the complaint, described in paragraph 2, above, was received by, and filed with, this Commission on December 15, 2009, with a postmark of December 14, 2009.

 

7.      It is concluded that this Commission has jurisdiction to consider the complainant’s allegations because the complaint was filed within the required thirty-day period after the meetings were held.  Consequently, the respondents’ motion to dismiss is denied.

 

8.      The respondents also contended at the hearing on this matter that the public hearings were not “meetings” within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S., and therefore, the notice requirements of 1-225, G.S., are not applicable.

 

9.      Section 1-200(2), G.S., defines “meeting” as: 

 

…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, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power…

 

10.   It is found that two of the public hearings described in paragraph 5, above, were on proposed water rates and the third was on proposed revisions of certain MDC ordinances.

 

11.   It is found that the public hearings were noticed in the Hartford Courant newspaper and notice was filed with all the clerks of the member municipalities, including Windsor, pursuant to the MDC’s charter, on November 5 and November 12, 2009 by the respondent district clerk, Kristine Shaw.

 

12.   It is found that while the public hearings were conducted by bureaus or committees of the MDC, they were public hearings of the respondent MDC.

 

13.   It is found that water rates of the MDC and ordinances of the MDC are matters over which the MDC has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.

 

14.   It is found that the purpose of the hearings was to take comments from members of the public regarding the proposed water rates and revisions to the ordinances.

 

15.   It is found that the MDC’s November 16, 2009 public hearings constituted “hearing[s] or other proceeding[s] of a public agency.”

 

16.   It is found therefore that the MDC’s November 16, 2009 public hearings were “meetings” within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S., which meetings were special meetings.

 

17.   It is found that the MDC has a website and that notice of its special meetings should have been posted on the website by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 13, 2009.

 

18.   It is found that the respondents failed to post the notice of the November 16, 2009 public hearings on the MDC’s website pursuant to 1-225(b), G.S., and therefore, it is concluded that the respondents violated that provision.

 

19.   As already found in paragraph 11, above, the respondents filed notice of the November 16, 2009 public hearings on November 5 and 12, 2009 with all the district members including the town of Windsor, notwithstanding the complainant’s contention to the contrary.  It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate 1-225(b), G.S., in that regard.

 

20.   Notwithstanding the conclusion in paragraph 18, above, the complainant’s request for a civil penalty will not be considered.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1.  Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the notice provisions of 1-225(b), G.S.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 17, 2010.

 

 

__________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

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:

 

Bradshaw Smith

23 Ludlow Road

Windsor, CT  06095

 

Robert E. Moore, Chief Administrative Officer, Metropolitan District Commission;

Kristine Shaw, District Clerk, Metropolitan District Commission; and

Metropolitan District Commission

c/o Christopher R. Stone, Esq.

Chadwick & Stone, LLP

111 Founders Plaza Suite 1702

East Hartford, CT  06108

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2009-756/FD/cac/11/22/2010