FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Peter V. Cuprak,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88-239

 

City Council, City Manager, and Corporation Counsel Konstant Morell of the City of Norwich,

 

Respondents October 26, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 16, 1988, along with Docket #FIC 88-230, Docket #FIC 88-246 and Docket #FIC 88-268, 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. At its June 20, 1988 regular meeting, the respondent council voted 10 to 1, with Councilman Remondi opposed, to convene in executive session.

 

3. The respondent council convened in executive session for the stated purposes of discussing "pending litigation and conflict of interest."

 

4. By letter of complaint dated June 23, 1988 and filed with the Commission on June 24, 1988, the complainant alleged that the respondent council convened in executive session to discuss "pending litigation" when no litigation was pending and discussed other matters in executive session which are not permitted under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

5. The respondents claim that the respondent council permissibly convened in executive session under 1-18a(e)(1) and 1-18a(e)(2), G.S.

 

6. At the hearing, the respondents agreed to submit to the Commission copies of the agenda and the minutes of the respondent council's June 20, 1988 regular meeting, as after-filed exhibits.

 

Docket #FIC 88-239 Page 2

 

7. On August 24, 1988, the Hearing Officer designated the copies of the agenda and the minutes of the respondent council's June 20, 1988 regular meeting as respondents' exhibits #2 and #3 respectively.

 

8. It is found that the respondent council convened in executive session at the requests of the respondents city manager and corporation counsel.

 

9. It is found that at the executive session the respondent council discussed the performance of the respondent counsel as it related to his recommendation that the Personnel Pension Board properly could hear a claim filed by a police officer.

 

10. It is found that at the executive session the respondent council also discussed strategies of avoiding a potential lawsuit with the city's housing authorities, including a possible merger of the housing authorities.

 

11. With respect to the discussion of the respondent counsel's performance, it is found that the discussion concerned the performance of a public employee within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.

 

12. It is concluded that, with respect to the discussion of the respondent counsel's performance, the respondent council convened in executive session for a permissible purpose under 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.

 

13. Although the issue was not raised by the complainant, the Commission notes that the respondent council failed to state clearly to the public the actual purpose of that portion of the executive session.

 

14. With respect to the discussion of the city's housing authorities, it is found that there are no pending claims or litigation to which the respondent council is a party within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(2), G.S.

 

15. It is concluded that, with respect to the discussion of the city's housing authorities, the respondent council did not convene in executive session for a permissible purpose, in violation of 1-18a(e) and 1-21(a), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 88-239 Page 3

 

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., regarding executive sessions.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of October 26, 1988.

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission