FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Stephen J. Winters and Post Telegram Newspapers,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 87-194

 

Board of Directors of the Greater Bridgeport Transit District,

 

Respondent December 15, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as contested case on August 7, 1987 and September 11, 1987, at which time the complainants and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. On June 9, 1987 the respondent held a meeting during which it convened in executive session "for the purpose of allowing Counsel to report on contract negotiations."

 

3. On June 10, 1987 the general manager of the Greater Bridgeport Transit District ("GBTD") issued a memorandum stating that all requests for information or records were to be put in writing and submitted to him prior to the release of any information.

 

4. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on July 9, 1987 the complainants alleged that at its June 9, 1987 meeting the respondent discussed the issue of limiting access to information, although the matter had neither appeared on nor been added to the agenda. The complainants further alleged that the minutes of the June 9, 1987 meeting did not reflect the presence of persons other than agency members who attended the executive session.

 

Docket #FIC 87-194 Page Two

 

5. It is found that prior to the convening of the June 9, 1987 meeting, while awaiting the arrival of one of its commissioners, the respondent met in closed session with counsel to discuss strategy and negotiations with respect to collective bargaining. Upon the arrival of the missing member the respondent convened in public session. At the conclusion of the public session the respondent returned to a closed session, which it designated an executive session, to continue discussion of strategy and negotiations with respect to collective bargaining.

 

6. It is found that the discussions, in closed session, which preceded and followed the June 9, 1987 meeting of the respondent were strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining and did not constitute meetings within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S., nor did they constitute executive sessions within the meaning of 1-18a(e), G.S.

 

7. It is concluded that the failure of the respondent to produce minutes which specifically stated the names of those attending the closed session which followed the public session did not violate 1-21g(a), G.S.

 

8. It is noted, however, that referring to the closed session which followed the meeting as an "executive session" was misleading and, technically, violated 1-18a(e), G.S.

 

9. It is found that while convened in closed session on June 9, 1987 counsel for the respondent advised its members to keep confidential all information relating to collective bargaining strategy. The members of the respondent did not, as alleged, discuss the topic of limiting information other than in the context of strategy with respect to collective bargaining.

 

10. Based upon the comments of the respondent's counsel, the general manager of the GBTD took it upon himself to issue the memorandum referred to at paragraph 3, above. The memorandum was dictated over the telephone from New York City, where the general manager was engaged in contract negotiations, to a GBTD staff member.

 

11. It is found that the respondent did not request or authorize the June 10, 1987 memorandum. The memorandum was, in fact, countermanded by the chairman of the respondent shortly after its issuance.

 

12. It is noted that the complainants made no claim that the memorandum resulted in the denial or limitation of access to any record of the GBTD.

 

Docket #FIC 87-194 Page Three

 

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

 

1. Henceforth the respondent shall convene in executive session only for one or more of the proper purposes listed at 1-18a(e), G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of December 15, 1987.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission