The failure of the members of a public agency to speak loudly enough during a public meeting is a violation of the statutory requirement that meetings be “open to the public,” according to a recent ruling of the Freedom of Information Commission.

According to a Freedom of Information Act complaint filed against the Brookfield Board of Assessment Appeals, the members of the Board engaged in “secretive” conduct during some of their meetings. Specifically, the complaint alleged that members of the Board lowered their voices during their discussion so that members of the public could not hear what was being said.

Based on the evidence and testimony provided at the hearing, the Freedom of Information Commission found that Board members did lower their voices during discussion at one of their meetings so that members in the public could not hear what was being discussed. According to the Commission, this behavior was a violation and that the meeting was not open to the public pursuant to the requirements of the Act. Apparently whispering is not an accepted exception to Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law.