In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Stephen J. Winters and the Post Telegram,




against Docket #FIC 88-158


Robert Hardy, Frank Loda, M. Richard Ostaszeski, Harry Marx and Seymour Board of Police Commissioners,


Respondents August 24, 1988


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 20, 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 April 6, 1988, the respondent board held a meeting during which it convened in executive session.


3. By letter dated April 15, 1988, and filed with the Commission on April 25, 1988, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents convened in executive session for impermissible purposes.


4. At the hearing, after the respondents explained what actually was discussed in the executive session, the complainants agreed that the executive session was convened for permissible purposes.


5. At the hearing, the parties also agreed that the respondent board's agenda for the meeting listed the topics to be discussed in executive session in a manner that was confusing and, in parts, vague.


6. It is concluded that the respondent board violated 1-21(a), G.S., by not filing an agenda that communicated to the public what topics the respondent board planned to address in its meeting.


DOCKET #FIC 88-158 Page Two


7. It is found that although the respondent board during its meeting publicly stated the purpose for the executive session, it did so in a manner that left many members of the public confused.


8. Thus it is concluded that the respondent board also violated 1-21(a), G.S., by not publicly stating the reasons for the executive session in a manner that communicated to the public what it planned to discuss in executive session.


8. It is found, however, that the respondent board already has instructed the individual who prepares its agenda to be more specific and less confusing, and that this individual already has begun doing so.


9. It is also found that the respondent board recently hired a part-time employee to provide extra secretarial support and further ensure that the agendas are prepared properly.


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


1. The respondent board henceforth shall act in strict compliance with 1-21(a), G.S.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of August 24, 1988.



Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission