Gabriele v. Board of Representatives, City of Stamford
Because the complainant had actual notice of an alleged secret meeting on the day it took place, the Freedom of Information Commission lacked subject matter jurisdiction over his complaint filed more than 30 days after the alleged meeting date pursuant to C.G.S. §1-206(b)(1). Salvatore Gabriele appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission on Sept. 15, 2011, alleging that the city of Stamford and its board of representatives violated the open meetings provisions of the Freedom of Information Act by communicating by email and telephone on Aug. 15, 2011 concerning a letter to Stamford's director of legal affairs. The FOIC found that on Aug. 15, 2011, the board president circulated a draft letter among board leadership members suggesting that it would be strengthened by their support. Some discussion by email or telephone or both occurred among the members. The deputy minority leader shared the draft with caucus members, including the complainant, asking for their opinions. Six leadership members agreed to sign the letter on Aug. 15th and physically signed it the following day. The board did not treat the communications as a meeting and did not file meeting notices or minutes. The board did not discuss the letter at subsequent meetings or take action regarding the letter or its substance. The respondents contended that the complaint had to be dismissed pursuant to C.G.S. §1-206(b)(1) as it was filed more than 30 days after the complainant had notice in fact of the alleged meeting. The complainant argued that he did not have actual notice until Aug. 16th when he learned that the letter had been signed or, alternatively, that the meeting wasn't over until at least Aug. 16th when the letter was signed. The FOIC found that the complainant knew of the alleged meeting on Aug. 15, 2011. While the letter was not executed until the following day and some communication may have continued, the heart of the alleged meeting occurred on Aug. 15, 2011. Therefore, the FOIC lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Sept. 15, 2011 complaint. The complaint was dismissed.