In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Henry E. Buermeyer,


Complainant, Docket #FIC 86-272




City of Groton Utilities Commissioners,


Respondent December 16, 1986


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 21, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented exhibits and argument on the complaint.


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


1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. On August 21, 1986, the respondent held a meeting, during which it convened an executive session for the stated purpose of discussing "personnel matters."


3. By letter of complaint dated September 19, 1986, and filed with the Commission on September 22, 1986, the complainant alleged:


a. the reason stated for the executive session was not specific enough to meet the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S.,


b. people who were not Utilities Commissioners were present throughout the executive session in violation of 1-21g, G.S.,


c. and there was no evidence as to whether the individuals who were the subject of the personnel discussions were informed ahead of time that they would be discussed or given the opportunity to request an open session, as required by 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.


Docket #FIC 86-272 Page Two


4. The respondent concedes that it did not identify the person who was the subject of the personnel discussion in its stated reason for the executive session.


5. The respondent also concedes that the person discussed, Mr. William Clinton, Director of Utilities, was not informed he was going to be discussed and did not have the opportunity to request a public session.


6. The respondent claims that Superintendents Michaud and Dion, who are not Utilities Commissioners, work with Mr. Clinton and were present at the executive session to testify about him.


7. It is found that Superintendents Michaud and Dion were at the executive session to give testimony about the matter before the Utilities Commission.


8. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by not stating the reason of the executive session specifically enough for the public to understand the actual purpose intended.


9. It is further concluded that the respondent violated 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., by not informing Mr. Clinton that he was going to be the subject of a personnel discussion held in an executive session and by not giving him the opportunity to request a public session.


10. It is also concluded that, under 1-21g, G.S., the respondent properly allowed Superintendents Michaud and Dion to attend the executive session.


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


1. The respondent henceforth shall act in strict compliance with the terms of 1-18a(e) and 1-21(a), G.S.


2. The Commission notes the respondent's awareness of its responsibilities and shortcomings under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Commission also notes that the City of Groton is holding an FOIA educational workshop, for the respondent and other city agencies, on October 27, 1986.


3. The respondent henceforth shall continue its efforts to educate itself about and comply strictly with the FOIA.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of December 16, 1986


Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission