Final Decision FIC2015-369
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2015-369|
Board of Selectmen,
Town of Morris; and
Town of Morris,
January 27, 2016
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 11, 2015, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. By letter dated and filed May 29, 2015, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOI”) in the following way: by failing to post the Board of Selectmen’s May 28, 2015 special meeting agenda on the town’s website in a timely manner.
3. 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. . . . The secretary or clerk shall cause any notice received under this section to be posted in his office.
4. It is found that the Board of Selectmen decided to convene a special meeting on May 28, 2015 at 7:00 PM and that it created an agenda for the meeting and filed it in the Office of the Town Clerk on May 26, 2015.
5. It is found that, on May 26, 2015, the assistant town clerk posted the agenda for the May 28, 2015 meeting on a bulletin board outside of her office. It is found that, on May 27, 2015, the complainant saw the agenda for the May 28, 2015 special meeting on the town clerk’s bulletin board. Moreover, it is found that the complainant attended the May 28, 2015 special meeting.
6. The complainant contends that, while the agenda was properly posted on the bulletin board twenty-four hours in advance of the special meeting in question, the agenda was not posted on the Town of Morris’ website twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting. The complainant further contends that the town clerk’s failure to post the agenda in a timely fashion is the Board of Selectmen’s fault.
7. The assistant town clerk for the Town of Morris appeared at the contested case hearing to testify in this matter on behalf of the respondents.
8. With regard to the electronic posting of agendas generally, it is found that, when the assistant town clerk receives an agenda, she scans its, saves it on her computer, and then uploads the document onto the town’s website. In this case, it is found that the assistant clerk received the agenda on May 26, 2015 and attempted to post it on the town’s website several times. Specifically, after scanning the agenda and saving it to her computer, it is found that the assistant clerk realized that there was a problem with the town’s website in that it was not allowing her to upload the document; she then repeated this process several times (re-scanning, re-saving and attempting to upload the agenda). However, it is found that the assistant town clerk was unable to get the system to upload the agenda onto the town’s website on May 26, 2015.
9. Later in the day on May 26, 2015, it is found that the assistant town clerk contacted her information technology professional, seeking his assistance with the electronic posting. It is found that the information technology professional did not call her back on May 26, 2015. It is further found that the Office of the Town Clerk was closed on May 27, 2015. It is found that it was around noon on May 28, 2015 when the assistant town clerk—who had been working alone in the town clerk’s office—was finally able to get the special meeting agenda to upload onto the town’s website.
10. It is found that the assistant town clerk’s failure to post the May 28, 2015 special meeting agenda on the town’s website twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting was not the respondents’ failure.1
1The Commission notes that, given the technical problems that the Office of the Town Clerk was experiencing on May 26, 2015, the assistant town clerk's failure to post the special meeting agenda on the town's website twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting would mostly likely be considered, at best, a technical violation of the FOI Act.
11. 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 January 27, 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:
205 West Street
Lakeside, CT 06758
Board of Selectmen, Town of Morris; and
Town of Morris
c/o Kenneth R. Slater, Jr., Esq.
Halloran & Sage LLP
225 Asylum Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission