FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Michael Gorfinkle,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-539

David Streit, Chairman, Fairfield County

Municipal Deer Management Alliance; and

Fairfield County Municipal

Deer Management Alliance,

 
  Respondents June 22, 2011
       

           

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 5, 2011, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. This matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2010-667, Michael Gorfinkle against David Streit, Chairman, Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance et al.

 

            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 of complaint filed August 30, 2010, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to make available the agendas and minutes of their March 8 and May 10, 2010 meetings. The complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties.

 

            3.  It is found that the respondent Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance (the “Alliance”) is a regional planning agency whose members are officials from the participating municipalities. Those municipalities include Wilton and Redding. According to the Alliance’s web site, the Alliance is a consortium of municipalities whose purpose is to foster an informed and collaborative approach to reducing the region’s over-abundant deer population.

 

4. It is found that the complainant, by letter dated May 17, 2010 to the respondent Alliance Chairman David Streit, requested copies of the minutes of the Alliance meetings of March 8 and May 10, 2010, and received no response to his request.

 

5.  It is found that, by letter dated August 3, 2010, the complainant asked the respondent Chairman whether he had a procedure for public posting of agendas and minutes, and where the complainant could access them. The respondent did reply prior to the filing of this complaint.

 

6.  It is found that, after correspondence between the complainant and the Alliance’s past and present chairs by which the complainant sought to ascertain the location of the requested minutes, the complainant visited the offices of the town clerks for Redding and Wilton to inspect or copy the requested minutes, and was informed by the town clerks that those minutes were not located in their offices.

 

7.  Section 1-200(2), G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

“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, 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. 

 

8.  Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that the minutes of the meetings of public agencies “shall be available for public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer.”

 

9. Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

Each such agency shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place and, if there is no such office or place of business, the public records pertaining to such agency shall be kept in the office of the clerk of the political subdivision in which such public agency is located ….

 

10.  Section 1-225, G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

(c)  The agenda of the regular meetings of every public agency, except for the General Assembly, shall be available to the public and shall be filed, not less than twenty-four hours before the meetings to which they refer, (1) in such agency's regular office or place of business, and (2) … in the office of the clerk of each municipal member of any multitown district or agency….

 

      (d)  Notice of each special meeting of every public agency … shall be posted 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 clerk of each municipal member for any multitown district or agency. 

 

11.  It is found that the complainant sought the records from the Wilton Town Clerk because he had been informed that the records were located in that town.

 

12.  It is found that the requested minutes were most likely located in the office of the Alliance’s previous chair, the Director of Environmental Affairs for the town of Wilton, and that the Alliance has no regular office or place of business.

 

13.  It is found that, although the requested minutes were ultimately provided to the complainant, they were not available to him or the public within seven days of the respective meetings, because their location was not reasonably ascertainable at those times.

 

14.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated 1-225(a), G.S.

 

15. It is further concluded that this violation was not without reasonable grounds, and that therefore a civil penalty is not appropriate.

 

 

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 requirements of 1-225(a), G.S. Although the terms of 1-225 (c) and (d), G.S., refer only to notices and agendas, and not minutes, the Commission suggests that, for a multi-town agency such as the respondent Alliance that has no regular office or place of business, the filing of minutes with each participating municipality would provide ready access.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 22,  2011.

 

 

__________________________

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:

 

Michael Gorfinkle

48 Fire Hill Road

West Redding, CT  06896

 

David Streit, Chairman, Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance;

54 Cross Highway

Redding, CT  06896

 

and

 

Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance

P.O. Box 186

Georgetown, CT  06829

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2010-539/FD/cac/6/24/2011