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Final Decision FIC2014-524
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Charles Setaro,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2014-524
City Council, City of Danbury;
and City of Danbury,
     Respondents
May 27, 2015

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 26, 2015, 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 August 5, 2014, and filed on August 7, 2014, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with the notice provision of §1-225(d), G.S.
     3.  Section 1-225(d), G.S., provides in relevant part that “…[t]he notice shall specify the time and place of the special meeting and the business to be transacted.” [Emphasis added.] 
     4.  It is found that the respondent City Council (“City”) held a special meeting on July 24, 2014, the notice for which was timely filed with and posted by the respondent city’s clerk and posted on the city’s web site.
     5.  However, it is also found that the notice failed to specify the business to be transacted at the meeting.
     6.  At the hearing on this matter, the respondents argued that the provisions of §1-225(d), G.S., cited in paragraph 3, above, apply only to emergency special meetings and that there is no requirement that the notice of a special meeting include an agenda.
     7.  It is concluded, however, that the respondents’ interpretation of §1-225(d), G.S., is inaccurate in that §1-225(d), G.S., also provides that no notice at all is required for emergency special meetings.1   It is concluded, therefore, that it would be unreasonable to construe the provisions in §1-225(d), G.S., to mean that notice for an emergency special meeting must specify the time, place, and the business to be transacted where no notice for such meeting is required at all.

1
Section 1-225(d), G.S., provides in relevant part that "…notice shall be given not less than twenty-four hours prior to the time of the special meeting; provided, in case of emergency, …any such special meeting may be held without complying with the foregoing requirement for the filing of notice but a copy of the minutes of every such emergency special meeting adequately setting forth the nature of the emergency and the proceedings occurring at such meeting shall be filed with … the clerk of such political subdivision, or the clerk of each municipal member of such multitown district or agency, as the case may be, not later than seventy-two hours following the holding of such meeting." [emphasis added]
     8.  This Commission’s opinion in Advisory Opinion #42 is clear in this regard stating that:
Special meetings, on the other hand, are scheduled between, or in the absence of, regular meetings.  Notice of each special meeting must be posted in the office of the Secretary of the State or the appropriate municipal clerk, as the case may be.  The notice must be posted at least 24 hours prior to the convening of the meeting; and it must set forth in particular the time, place and specific business to be transacted at such meeting. Notice must also be given to each agency member, as described in §1-21.  Special meetings are designed to give an agency flexibility in dealing with business that was not anticipated when the schedule of regular meetings was filed and which, in the agency's judgment, should be treated before its next regular meeting.

Emergency meetings do not require advance public notice, although they have more stringent minutes requirements, including a state¬ment of the nature of the emergency justifying such a meeting.  These meetings are likewise designed to give an agency flexibility in dealing with matters that necessitate immediate agency consideration, and therefore 24 hours' advance notice for a special meeting is not possible.
     9.  Consequently, it is concluded that the respondents violated the notice provisions of §1-225(d), G.S., by failing to specify the business to be transacted at its July 24, 2014 special meeting in the notice for that meeting.

     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(d), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 27, 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:
Charles Setaro
27 Deer Hill Avenue
Danbury, CT  06810
City Council, City of Danbury; and City of Danbury
c/o Laszlo L. Pinter, Esq.
Office of Corporation Counsel
155 Deer Hill Avneue
Danbury, CT  06810
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2014-524/FD/cac/5/27/2015