FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Gregory M. Conte,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88‑284

 

Town Council of the Town of Monroe,

 

Respondent December 20, 1988

 

The above‑captioned matter was scheduled for hearing August 31, 1988, and then rescheduled for September 22, 1988, at which time the parties appeared and presented evidence 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. By letter of complaint filed July 13, 1988, and amended July 21, 1988, the complainant alleged that on July 5, 1988, the respondent held an executive session for a purpose not permitted under 1‑18a(e), G.S., and that it discussed a matter not on the agenda for the meeting in the executive session.

 

3. The complainant alleged also that the respondent withheld from the public the final page of a four page document which was distributed to members of the respondent at the July 5, 1988 meeting.

 

4. The respondent conceded that the notice of the meeting did not include any reference to asbestos removal, which was discussed during the executive session, and that the discussion of the asbestos removal project was not a proper purpose for the executive session.

 

5. The respondent claimed, however, that the executive session was otherwise proper because it concerned discussion of appraisals and evaluations made for prospective public construction contracts.

 

6. It is found that bids for the town hall expansion project which had been submitted exceeded the amount of money authorized to be spent by the town meeting by more than one million dollars.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑284 page two

 

7. It is found that the respondent announced to the members of the public at the meeting that it would conduct an executive session to discuss "negotiations."

 

8. It is found that, after the executive session, the respondent voted in public to reject all bids on the town hall expansion and on the asbestos removal.

 

9. It is found that at the July 5, 1988 meeting the respondents received a memorandum which was marked "negotiation sensitive not to be released" and which was titled, "Town Hall Expansion Project, July 5, 1988."

 

10. It is found that the memorandum which was distributed contained a proposed resolution, an estimate regarding anticipated costs of the renovation which was approximately the amount of the bids which were already public, a list of alternatives regarding the town hall expansion, and a four‑part recommendation.

 

11. The recommendations contained in the memorandum were that the respondent seek additional money, that the bid process be terminated, that negotiations begin with one bidder regarding a 10% reduction of the bid price,and that the asbestos removal be considered separately.

 

12. It is found that the discussion in the executive session concerned the subject matter of the memorandum.

 

13. It is found that the respondent failed to prove that it held an executive session for a proper purpose within the meaning of 1‑18a(e), G.S.

 

14. It is found that a member of the public who was present at the July 5, 1988, meeting asked for a copy of the memorandum which was distributed to the members of the respondent.

 

15. It is found that on July 5, 1988, the respondent failed to make a complete copy of the memorandum public in response to this request.

 

16. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1‑19(a), 1‑21, and 1‑18a(e), G.S., by failing to provide a copy of a public record promptly, by improperly noticing a special meeting, and by holding an improper executive session.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended

 

Docket #FIC 88‑284 page three

 

on the basis of the record concerning the above‑captioned complaint:

 

1. The respondent shall henceforth comply with 1‑19(a), 1‑18a(e), and 1‑21, G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of December 20, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission