FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Al Remondi,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88-246

 

Norwich City Council,

 

Respondent 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 88-239 and Docket #FIC 88-268, at which time the complainant 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. At its June 20, 1988 regular meeting, the respondent voted 10 to 1, with the complainant opposed, to convene in executive session.

 

3. The respondent 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 28, 1988, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated 1-18a(e)(2) and 1-21(a), G.S., in that:

 

a. It failed to state publicly the subject of "pending litigation" discussed in executive session.

 

b. It convened in executive session for an improper purpose since no lawsuit had been filed at the time of its June 20, 1988 regular meeting.

 

5. The respondent claims that it permissibly convened in executive session under 1-18a(e)(2), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 88-246 Page 2

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

9. It is found that the statement "pending litigation" was too vague to communicate clearly to the public the actual purpose of the executive session.

 

10. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to state publicly the reason for the executive session in a manner that clearly communicated it to the public.

 

11. The Commission notes that the respondent should have stated the reason for the executive session in a way that clearly communicated to the public the nature of the litigation.

 

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

 

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

 

14. Since the complainant specifically limited his allegations regarding the executive session to the discussion of the city's housing authorities, the Commission will address only that portion of the executive session.

 

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

 

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

 

Docket #FIC 88-246 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 respondent 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