As of September 5, 2022, Freedom of Information Commission meetings and contested case hearings will resume being conducted in person. All parties and witnesses must appear in person for their contested case hearings and Commission meetings. Please access this link or contact the Commission for further information.

Final Decision FIC2015-735
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Helen Nejfelt,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2015-735
Mayor, Town of Plymouth;
Town Council, Town of
Plymouth; and Town of
Plymouth,
     Respondents
March 9, 2016

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 30, 2015, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, the matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2015-636, Mark Nejfelt v. Mayor, Town of Plymouth; Town Council, Town of Plymouth; and Town of Plymouth; and Docket #FIC 2015-642, Elizabeth Reese v. Mayor, Town of Plymouth; Town Council, Town of Plymouth; and Town of Plymouth.
     1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
     2. By letter dated October 29, 2015 and filed November 2, 2015, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act in the following way:  by conducting a special public meeting without posting a notice and an agenda. 
     3. Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part, that “[t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions, as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, shall be open to the public. . . .”
     4. Section 1-200(2), G.S., defines “meeting,” in relevant part, as follows:
. . . 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. . . .
     5. Section 1-225(d), G.S., provides, in relevant part, as follows:
Notice of each special meeting of every public agency . . . shall be posted not less than twenty-four hours before the meeting to which such notice refers on the public agency’s Internet web site, if available, and 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 such subdivision for any public agency of a political subdivision of the state. . . .
     6. It is found that Gosinski Park is a housing complex in Terryville, Connecticut, which is operated by the Plymouth Housing Authority.
     7. It is found that, at the time of the filing of the instant complaint, the complainant was the Chairperson of the Plymouth Housing Authority.  It is further found that the complainant is not a resident of Gosinski Park. 
     8. It is found that, at a May 5, 2015 regular meeting of the Plymouth Town Council, the Town Council authorized the Mayor to investigate certain issues that were raised by the residents of Gosinski Park, including complaints that money had been improperly taken and/or spent.  It is found that the Mayor was charged with investigating the complaints and reporting back to the Town Council with recommendations.  
     9. It is found that, on or about October 18, 2015, a resident from Gosinski Park invited the Mayor to come to the park to speak with the residents.  It is found that, at this time, it was widely known that the Mayor was running for re-election.  It is further found that, during the previous week, the Mayor’s opponent had likewise been invited to come to Gosinski Park to speak to the residents. 
     10.  It is found that, on October 26, 2015, around the time a public meeting of the Plymouth Housing Authority was adjourning in the Gosinski Park common room, the Mayor and a town council member arrived to speak to the residents.  It is found that the Mayor gave a talk about his campaign and the importance of voting, and then took comments from the residents.  At the time of the Mayor’s visit, it is found that the mayoral election was approximately one week away. 
     11.  It is found that no one was asked to leave the Gosinski Park common room as the Mayor spoke or listened to the residents’ comments.
     12.  The complainant further contends that the gathering of the Gosinski Park residents with the Mayor and the town council member was a public meeting, to which she was entitled to notice.  The complainant further contends that the Gosinski Park resident who organized the event failed to properly “sign out” the common room. 
     13.  The Mayor and a member of the Plymouth Town Council appeared at the contested case hearing and provided testimony. 
     14.  It is found that the gathering at Gosinski Park was organized and hosted by a resident of the park who is a private citizen; it was not organized or called to order by the Mayor or by any other public agency.  It is further found that the purpose of the gathering was to answer questions about the Mayor’s campaign.  Finally, it is found that the gathering did not turn into a discussion of a subject matter over which a public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power. 
     15.  It is therefore concluded that the September 19, 2015 gathering was not a public meeting, within the meaning of §1-200(2), G.S.
     16.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.
     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. 
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 9, 2016.
__________________________
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:
Helen Nejfelt
275 Main Street B
Terryville, CT  06786
Mayor, Town of Plymouth; Town Council, Town of
Plymouth; and Town of Plymouth
c/o William A. Hamzy, Esq.
The Hamzy Law Firm, LLC
140 Farmington Avenue
Bristol, CT  06010
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC/2015-735/FD/cac/3/9/2016