FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Henry E. Buermeyer

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 86-323

 

City of Groton, Mayor, City Council, City Clerk, City Attorney and Utility Commission of the City of Groton

 

Respondents January 28, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 23, 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 dated and postmarked on November 18, 1986 and filed with the Commission on November 21, 1986, the complainant alleged that the respondents improperly held a special meeting on October 20, 1986 in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

3. Specifically, the complainant claims that the respondents violated 1-21c, 1-21g and 1-18a(e)(5), G.S. in that:

 

a. The respondent city clerk failed to provide the complainant with notice of the October 20, 1986 joint special meeting of the respondents mayor and city council (hereinafter "committee of the whole"), and utility commission, where the complainant had filed a written request to receive notice of all special meetings.

 

b. The respondents failed to state publicly a proper purpose for one of its executive sessions held at its October 20, 1986 special meeting.

 

Docket #FIC 86-323 Page 2

 

c. The presence of an administrative assistant at an executive session on October 20, 1986 was improper since he offered no testimony or opinion.

 

4. The complainant requests that the Commission impose a civil penalty on the respondent mayor, city clerk, and city attorney.

 

5. The respondents claim that:

 

a. The October 20, 1986 joint meeting was a regular meeting of which the complainant had actual notice.

 

b. The committee of the whole and the respondent utility commission properly convened in executive session to discuss the contents of a feasibility report concerning the establishment of a municipal gas supply system within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(5) and 1-19(b)(7), G.S.

 

c. The attendance of an administrative assistant during the executive session was necessary since he managed the project which was the topic of discussion at the executive session.

 

6. The regular meetings of the respondent mayor and city council are scheduled monthly for the first and third Mondays at 7:30 p.m. and the regular meetings of the respondent utility commission are scheduled monthly for the third Thursday at 4:00 p.m.

 

7. It is found that the committee of the whole and the respondent utility commission met on October 20, 1986 at 7:00 p.m.

 

8. It therefore is concluded that the October 20, 1986 meeting constituted a joint special meeting within the meaning of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

9. It is found that on July 28, 1986, the complainant made a written request to the respondent city clerk to receive notice of all special meetings of the respondent city council as well as special meetings of each board, commission, and committee of the respondent city.

 

10. It is found that the respondent city clerk inadvertently failed to provide the complainant with written notice of the October 20, 1986 special meeting in violation of 1-21c, G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 86-323 Page 3

 

11. It is found, however, that the complainant had actual notice of the October 20, 1986 joint special meeting.

 

12. It also is found that the committee of the whole and the respondent utility commission convened in executive session to discuss the contents of a feasibility estimate and evaluation report concerning the establishment of a municipal gas supply system.

 

13. It therefore is concluded that the committee of the whole and the respondent utility commission permissibly convened in executive session to discuss the contents of a feasibility estimate and evaluation report relative to a prospective supply contract within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(5) and 1-19(b)(7), G.S.

 

14. It further is found that an administrative assistant from the respondent city's utility department attended an executive session of the committee of the whole and the respondent utility commission on October 20, 1986.

 

15. Although the administrative assistant offered no opinion or testimony during the executive session of the committee of the whole and the respondent utility commission, it is found that, under the circumstances, his presence was permissible within the meaning of 1-21g, G.S.

 

16. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty on the respondents as requested by the complainant.

 

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 act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-21c, G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 28, 1987.

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission