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Final Decision FIC2013-037
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Kathleen Murphy,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2013-037
John Louizos, Timothy Abbazia, as
Members, Board of Finance Audit
Committee, City of Stamford; and Board
of Finance Audit Committee, City of
Stamford,
     Respondents
September 25, 2013

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 18, 2013, 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 filed January 28, 2013, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by convening a secret, unnoticed meeting to discuss audit matters.   The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the named respondents.
     3.  Section 1-200(2), G.S., defines “meeting” as:
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. 
     4.  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…”
     5.  The complainant claims that an e-mail dated January 25, 2013, from the respondents’ external auditor (“the auditor”) to the complainant references a meeting between the respondent members of the Board of Finance and the auditor:  “We have shared our specific question with Mssrs. Louizos and Abbazia, as Audit Committee Chair and BoF (sic) Chair…”
     6.  The complainant alleges that the two members of the respondent Board discussed the audit with each other and the auditor in a secret meeting to which the public was denied access.
     7.  It is found, however, that the respondent Louizos, as the chairperson of the Audit Committee, acted as a liaison with the auditor, and as liaison, often answered the auditor’s various questions during the audit. 
     8.  It is found that the respondent Louizos always shared audit issues with the Committee as a whole and with the Board of Finance as a whole.  It is found that the minutes of the agencies’ meetings document this finding.
     9.  It is found that neither of the named respondent members discussed the audit with each other outside of a public meeting.
     10. It is found that the respondents did not hold a “meeting” within the meaning of §1-200(2), G.S., as alleged.
     11. It is concluded that the respondents did not violate §1-225(a), G.S., 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 dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 25, 2013.

__________________________
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:
Kathleen Murphy
68 Saddle Rock Road
Stamford, CT  06902
John Louizos, Timothy Abbazia, as Members, Board of
Finance Audit Committee, City of Stamford; and Board
of Finance Audit Committee, City of Stamford
c/o Michael Toma, Esq.
Stamford Corporation Counsel
888 Washington Boulevard
9th Floor
Stamford, CT  06904
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC/2013-037/FD/cac/9/25//2013