In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Henry E. Buermeyer,




against Docket #FIC 86-230


Mayor, City Council and City Attorney of the City of Groton,


Respondents November 12, 1986


The above captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 15, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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 August 20, 1986 the complainant alleged that the respondents convened improperly in executive session during their special meeting of July 28, 1986


3. Also in his letter of complaint, the complainant questioned whether the employee who was the subject of the executive session had been notified and was given the opportunity to have the discussion in an open meeting; whether the respondent town attorney needed to be present for the entire executive session and whether the respondent council reconvened in open session after concluding the executive session.


4. It is found that the respondents convened in executive session at their July 28, 1986 special meeting for the stated purpose of discussing personnel.


5. It is also found that the statement "to discuss personnel" does not adequately reflect the actual purpose of the executive session in question.


Docket #FIC 86-230 Page 2


6. It is found that the respondents convened in executive session on July 28, 1986 to direct questions to the town attorney regarding Chief Sandora's compensation claim, his physical condition and his retirement from the City of Groton police department.


7. It is further found that Chief Sandora was notified by the respondent Mayor that he would be discussed in executive session and that he had a right to require that the discussion be held at an open meeting.


8. It is found that the town attorney was invited to attend the executive session by the respondent council for the purpose of answering questions regarding Chief Sandora's retirement as defined by 1-21g, G.S.


9. It is further found that the town attorney's presentation occupied the entire executive session.


10. It is therefore concluded that the respondents convened in executive session at their July 28, 1986 special meeting for a permissible purpose within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.


11. It is also found that the respondents reconvened in public session prior to concluding the special meeting in question.


12. At the hearing before the Commission, the respondents explained that had the complainant inquired, he would have been told the specific purpose for the executive session. The respondents also stated that they are willing to correct the minutes to reflect that Chief Sandora was the employee discussed in executive session.


13. The Commission notes, however, that it is not the responsibility of the general public to oversee meetings of public agencies to assure their compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, nor is it the responsibility of the public to request amplification of the public agency's minutes. The responsibility of complying with the Act lies strictly with the public agency.


Docket #FIC 86-230 Page 3


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


1. Henceforth, the respondents shall, before convening in executive session, accurately state the purpose for such session and record such purpose in the minutes of their meetings, as required by 1-21, G.S.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 12, 1986.


Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission