Sullivan v. Reed, Chairman, State of Connecticut, Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities
A state agency's failure to notice and make available on their website an agenda for three special meetings violated Connecticut General Statutes §§1-225(a) and (d) and the failure to hold the meetings in public contravened the open meetings provisions of C.G.S. §1-225(a). Guy Sullivan, a member of the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities, appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities and various members violated the Freedom of Information Act by conducting "secret" meetings during July and August of 2011. Sullivan requested various orders of relief, including that the nominations for chair, vice chair and general members, made by the membership committee be declared null and void to avoid embarrassing the governor by the alleged illegal committee activities. The FOIC first found jurisdiction. Although the alleged violations occurred more than 30 days before the date of the appeal, the complainant filed his appeal within 30 days after receiving notice in fact of the meetings, within the meaning of C.G.S. §1-206(b)(1). The respondents conceded that they did not give notice or post agendas prior to three meetings and failed to timely draft minutes. But the respondents' director credibly testified that she did not recall an Aug. 30, 2011 committee meeting despite reference to such meeting in later regular meeting minutes. The director testified to starting on July 1, 2011 and to being immersed in uncompleted projects. She testified that her inadvertent failure to follow FOIA requirements was due, partly, to her immersion in completing an outstanding five-year plan for submission in Washington. The FOIC found that the respondents' held special meetings on July 7, 2011, Aug. 2, 2011 and Aug. 9, 2011, as conceded, without notices, agendas or minutes and violated C.G.S. §1-225(a) and (d). The respondents violated the open meetings provisions of C.G.S. §1-225(a) by failing to hold those meetings in public. The FOIC declined to grant the relief requested by the complainant and ordered the respondents to create the missing minutes and to make them available as required by C.G.S. §1-225. Such minutes are to contain, at least, the names of attendees, items discussed, motions and a record of votes.