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Final Decision FIC2013-654
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Peter Hood,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2013-654
Chairman, Fairfield County Municipal
Deer Management Alliance; and Fairfield
County Deer Management Alliance,
     Respondents
July 9, 2014

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 5, 2014, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2013-628; Chairman, Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance; and Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance.
     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 filed October 21, 2013, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the FOI Act by failing to make available minutes of their meeting of September 9, 2013, within seven days of such meeting.  The complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties in this matter.
     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 18 participating municipalities in Fairfield County.
     4.  Section 1-225, G.S., provides in relevant part:
(a) The meetings of all public agencies … shall be open to the public… Not later than seven days after the date of the session to which such minutes refer … minutes shall be available for public inspection and posted on such public agency’s Internet web site, if available, …  Each public agency shall make, keep and maintain a record of the proceedings of its meetings.
     5.  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.
     6.  The Commission takes administrative notice of Docket #FIC 2010-539; Michael Gorfinkle v. David Streit, Chairman, Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance; and Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance (June 22, 2011), in which the Commission concluded:
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.
     7.  It is found that since the Commission’s decision in 2011, the respondents have made a diligent effort to comply with the Commission’s recommendations concerning the availability of minutes.
     8.  It is found that the respondents maintain a website, and post the minutes on such website.
     9.  It is found that the minutes of the respondents’ meetings held subsequent to the Commission’s final decision in Docket #FIC 2010-539 in June 2011, are on the respondents’ website and maintained by the clerk of the Town of Redding, and that the chair of the Alliance has sent an electronic copy of the minutes to the clerk of each member city or town.
     10. It is also found that the respondents’ website states on its home page, just below the link for meeting agendas and minutes:  “A Copy of all agendas and minutes is available in Redding, CT at the Office of the Town Clerk.”
     11. It is found that the complainant requested to inspect the minutes at two of the Alliance’s member towns (Bridgeport and Westport) on September 20, 2013 and on September 23, 2013, respectively.  It is found that the clerks at both towns told the complainant that they did not maintain such records.
     12. It is found that the complainant subsequently received a copy of the minutes of the September 9, 2013 meeting from the clerk of the town of Westport, soon after September 22, 2013.
     13. The respondents conceded, and it is found, that the minutes for the September 9, 2013 meeting were not made available until September 22, 2013, which is more than seven days after the meeting.
     14. It is concluded that the respondents violated §1-225(a), G.S., by failing to make available the minutes of their meeting of September 9, 2013, within seven days.
     15. After consideration of the entire record in this case, the Commission declines to consider the imposition of civil penalties against the respondents.
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
     1.  The respondents shall continue to comply with the requirements of §1-225(a), G.S.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 9, 2014.

__________________________
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:
Peter Hood
542 Villa Avenue
Fairfield, CT 06825
Chairman, Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management
Alliance; and Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance
c/o John W. Bradley, Jr., Esq.
Rome McGuigan, P.C.
One State Street
Hartford, CT  06103
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2013-654/FD/cac/7/9/2014