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Final Decision FIC2014-444
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Marissa Lowthert,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2014-444
Bruce Hampson, Chairman,
Miller Driscoll Building Committee,
Town of Wilton; and Miller Driscoll
Building Committee, Town of Wilton
     Respondents
June 10, 2015

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 24, 2015, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. 
     Pursuant to the order of the hearing officer at the April 24th hearing, the respondents filed an after-filed exhibit, which has been marked as follows:
     Respondents’ Exhibit 3: Affidavits Regarding Miller Driscoll Building Committee Minutes (with attachments).  
     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.  It is found that the respondent Miller Driscoll Building Committee (“Building
Committee”) is a committee appointed by the Town of Wilton Board of Selectmen.  It is found that the Building Committee was charged by the Board of Selectmen to make recommendations to the Board regarding conceptual designs and costs for the renovation of the Miller Driscoll School.
     3.  By email dated July 13, 2014, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that, on February 11, 2014, the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by conducting committee business and voting by email, and without providing notice to the public.  The complainant also requested the imposition of civil penalties, among other remedies.

     4.  Section 1-206(b)(1), G.S., provides in relevant part:
Any 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 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.  The complainant contends that she did not receive notice of the alleged unnoticed or
secret meeting until June 2014, when she received certain records in response to an unrelated records request.
     6.  It is found that the respondents conducted a meeting on March 13, 2014.  It is further found that the March 13th meeting minutes indicated that “Chairman Hampson stated that while the February 13, 2014 meeting of the building committee was cancelled because of snow, the building committee voted unanimously by e-mail to recommend Option 1 to the Board of Selectmen on February 18, 2014.”  In addition, it is found that on March 20, 2014, the respondents’ Vice Chairman emailed a copy of the March 13th meeting minutes to minutes@wiltonct.org for posting on the Town’s website. 
     7.  It is found that the respondents also met on March 27, 2014, at which time the March 13th meeting minutes, described in paragraph 6, above, were officially approved by the respondents.  In addition, it is found that on April 3, 2014, the respondents’ Vice Chairman emailed a copy of the March 27th meeting minutes to the Executive Assistant to the First Selectman, among others, for posting on the Town website.  It is found that, as part of her job, the Executive Assistant to the First Selectman is responsible for receiving the Building Committee’s meeting minutes and for making them available in her office.     
     8.  It is found that the complainant received notice in fact that the respondents may have conducted an unnoticed or secret meeting on March 27, 2014, which is the date that the respondents approved, in public, the minutes for the March 13th meeting.
     9.  It is found that the notice of appeal in this matter was filed more than thirty days after the complainant received notice in fact that the respondents allegedly conducted an unnoticed or secret meeting. 
     10. It is concluded that the Commission does not have jurisdiction in this matter.
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

     1.  The complaint is hereby dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 10, 2015.

__________________________
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:
Marissa Lowthert
90 Keelers Ridge
Wilton, CT  06897
Bruce Hampson, Chairman, Miller Driscoll Building
Committee, Town of Wilton; and Miller Driscoll
Building Committee, Town of Wilton
c/o Patricia C. Sullivan, Esq.
Cohen and Wolf, P.C.
1115 Broad Street
Bridgeport, CT  06604
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC/2014-444/FD/cac/6/10/2015