FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Mark S. Del Vecchio and the Register Citizen,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 86-90

 

Winsted Volunteer Fire Department and the Chief of the Winsted Volunteer Fire Department,

 

Respondents May 14, 1986

 

The above captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 18, 1986, at which time the complainants appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The respondents failed to appear.

 

After consideration of the entire record the following facts are found:

 

1. The respondent department was created by special act of the General Assembly in 1929 and currently exists under the charter of the city of Winsted.

 

2. The respondent department is under the general jurisdiction of the board of selectmen, an elected agency of the city of Winsted.

 

3. Pursuant to 608 of the town charter, the board of selectmen is empowered to organize and to regulate the respondent department, as well as to appoint its high ranking officers.

 

4. It is found that the respondent department acts as, and performs the function of, the fire department for the respondent town and that such function is governmental in nature.

 

5. It is found that the town pays the salaries of the respondent department's high ranking officers in addition to providing the respondents with other services.

 

Docket #FIC 86-90 Page 2

 

6. It is therefore concluded that the respondent department is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S., and is therefore subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

7. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on April 2, 1986 the complainant Del Vecchio alleged that the respondent department, at its special meeting on March 16, 1986 convened in executive session without taking the required two-thirds vote and without stating a proper purpose. The complainant further alleged that while in executive session, the respondent department took a vote of confidence on the respondent fire chief in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

8. It is found that the respondents held a special meeting on March 16, 1986 at which they convened in executive session.

 

9. It is also found that at the meeting in question, the respondents took a voice vote of the members present and voting to convene in executive session.

 

10. It is found that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act precludes the taking of a voice vote, as long as a record of vote is filed by the agency pursuant to 1-21, G.S.

 

11. The complainant alleged that the respondent department violated the Freedom of Information Act by not listing the executive session in its agenda.

 

12. It is found that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act requires listing an executive session on the agenda of an agency meeting.

 

13. It is therefore concluded that the respondent department did not violate 1-21(a), G.S., by not listing the executive session on the agenda of its March 16, 1986 meeting.

 

14. It is found, however, that the purpose stated for convening in executive session was the presence of a newspaper reporter at the meeting.

 

15. It is concluded that the executive session was not held for a proper purpose within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 86-90 Page 3

 

16. It is further concluded that the respondents violated 1-21, G.S., when they convened in executive session for an improper purpose.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above captioned complaint:

 

1. The Commission hereby declares null and void all actions taken by the respondent department in executive session at its special meeting on March 16, 1986.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of May 14, 1986.

 

Karen Haggett

Clerk of the Commission