In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Marie R. Burbank,




against Docket #FIC 88‑324


Board of Selectmen of the Town of Andover,


Respondent November 30, 1988


The above‑captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 26, 1988, 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. The respondent convened in executive session during its special meeting of August 10, 1988.


3. By letter filed with the Commission on August 12, 1988, the complainant appealed to the Commission. The complainant amended her complaint by letter dated and filed with the Commission on August 15, 1988, and again by letter dated September 2, 1988, and filed with the Commission on September 6, 1988.


4. It is found that the respondent publicly stated its purpose for the executive session as "personnel matter."


5. It is found that the respondent actually convened in executive session to figure out quickly how to break a deadlock in discussions of who had the authority to appoint a clerk to the town building department.


6. It is found that 1‑18a(e), G.S., does not permit a public agency to convene in executive session for any such purpose.


7. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1‑18a(e) and 1‑21(a), G.S., by convening in executive session for an impermissible purpose.


Docket #FIC 88‑324 Page Two


8. It is found that the respondent further violated 1‑21(a), G.S., by not accurately stating in public the purpose for its executive session.


9. The Commission also notes that a statement such as "personnel matters," in any event, is too vague to communicate to the public the reason for which an agency is convening in executive session.


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


1. The respondent henceforth shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1‑18a(e) and 1‑21(a), G.S.


2. The respondent shall cause this final decision to be read aloud at its first meeting held after receipt of the notice of final decision.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of November 30, 1988.



Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission