FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

David E. Williams,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 86-176

 

Board of Police Commissioners, City and Town Clerk and the City and Town of Ansonia,

 

Respondents October 8, 1986

 

The above captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 22, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

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

 

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on June 16, 1986 the complainant alleged that the respondent board convened improperly in executive session during its meeting of May 14, 1986. The complainant further contends that the respondent board discussed him while in executive session without giving him prior notice also in violation of the Act.

 

3. The second portion of the complainant's appeal states that on May 22, 1986 he made a request of respondent town clerk for a copy of the minutes of the May 14, 1986 executive session and was told by her that prior approval was needed from the corporation counsel before the minutes could be given to him. The complainant contends that the minutes of the executive session do not list the names of those persons in attendance at the executive session, the length of their stay or the reasons they were present.

 

Docket #FIC 86-176 Page 2

 

4. The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondents.

 

5. It is found that the respondent board convened in executive session during its May 14, 1986 meeting for the stated purpose of "discussing grievances."

 

6. It is found that the respondent failed to state a permissible purpose within the meaning of 1-18a(e), G.S.

 

7. At the hearing before the Commission, the respondents claimed that the purpose of the executive session was to discuss grievances filed by police officers and that such a matter constitutes personnel matters as defined by 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.

 

8. It is found, however, that 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., does not extend to all "personnel matters," but only those specifically stated in that section.

 

9. It is further found that the respondent board's vote to convene in executive session to discuss all grievances, regardless of whether the discussion concerned a "personnel matter" within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., was improper.

 

10. It is therefore concluded that the respondent board violated 1-21, G.S. because it discussed, in part, matters not proper for executive session.

 

11. It is found, however, that the complainant was not discussed by the respondent board in executive session.

 

12. With respect to paragraph 3, above, it is found that the respondent clerk had a policy of disclosing executive session minutes to only those persons who attended such session.

 

13. At the hearing before the Commission, the respondents provided the complainant with a copy of the minutes of the May 14, 1986 executive session and agreed that it is not within the province of the town clerk to determine what public records are disclosed, but rather this determination is governed by the Freedom of Information Act.

 

14. It is concluded that the respondent clerk violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to release a copy of the requested minutes promptly.

 

Docket #FIC 86-176 Page 3

 

15. It is found that the minutes of the executive session in question include the names of the board members who attended. However, the complainant contends that the town attorney was also in attendance, yet his name is absent from the list.

 

16. It is found that the town attorney did attend the executive session in question.

 

17. Section 1-21g, G.S. requires that the minutes of executive sessions disclose all persons who are in attendance except job applicants who attend for the purpose of being interviewed.

 

18. It is therefore concluded that the respondent board violated 1-21g, G.S. by failing to list the town attorney as one of the persons in attendance at the executive session in question.

 

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

 

1. The respondent board shall henceforth convene in executive session for the specific purposes set forth in 1-18a(e), G.S.

 

2. The respondents shall henceforth comply with 1-15 and 1-21(a), G.S., regarding the prompt release of minutes.

 

3. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondents as requested by the complainant.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 8, 1986.

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission