FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Stephen J. Winters and the Post-Telegram Newspapers,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-311

 

Terry Buckmiller, Jeffrey Burmeister, Robert Burns, Ronald Pugliese, Catherine Jerome, Raymond Adamaitis, Henry Kogut, Board of Mayor & Burgesses and M. Leonard Caine, Borough Attorney of the Borough of Naugatuck,

 

Respondents March 29, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 19, 1988, at which time the complainants 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. On October 15, 1987, the respondent board held a special meeting at which it convened in executive session.

 

3. By letter of complaint dated October 19, 1987 and filed with the Commission on October 22, 1987, the complainants alleged the respondent board wrongfully denied the public the right to attend a portion of its October 15, 1987 special meeting in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

4. The complainants also requested the Commission to consider the appropriate penalties to be taken against the respondent board.

 

5. The respondents claim the respondent board permissibly convened in executive session to discuss strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims and litigation under 1-18a(e)(2), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 87-311 Page 2

 

6. It is found the respondent board convened in executive session, on the advice of its attorney, to discuss the legality of the retroactive application of a proposed snake ordinance, including the possibility of litigation being brought against the respondent board should it adopt the snake ordinance.

 

7. It also is found that there are no pending claims or litigation to which any of the respondents is a party, within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(2), G.S.

 

8. It therefore is concluded that the respondent board did not convene in executive session for a permissible purpose, in violation of 1-18a(e) and 1-21(a), G.S.

 

9. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondents.

 

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 1-18a(e) and 1-21(a), G.S.

 

2. The respondent board, within two months from the date it receives notice of the final decision in this matter, shall contact the Commission to arrange for one of its' staff attorneys to conduct an educational workshop on the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. The respondent board shall make every effort to have all of its members attend the workshop.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 23, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission