FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Henry M. Keezing and The Herald,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 88‑357

 

Building Department Investigative Committee of the City of New Britain Common Council,

 

Respondent November 30, 1988

 

The above‑captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 26, 1988, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #'s FIC 88‑342, 88‑354, 88‑386 and 88‑387. At the hearing, the Hartford Courant, a complainant in Docket #'s FIC 88‑354 and 88‑387, was granted party status.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached.

 

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 meeting of August 25, 1988, and tape recorded that executive session.

 

3. By letter dated August 26, 1988, the complainants requested of the respondent an opportunity to listen to the tape recording of the August 25, 1988 executive session, which request was denied.

 

4. By letter dated August 26, 1988 and received by the Commission on September 7, 1988, and by letter dated September 7, 1988 and received by the Commission on September 7, 1988, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the August 25, 1988 executive session was convened for an impermissible purpose, and alleging that the respondent denied the complainants' request to listen to the tape recording of the August 25, 1988 executive session.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑357 Page 2

 

5. It is found that the tape recording of the August 25, 1988 executive session is recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by the respondent, and is therefore a public record within the meaning of 1‑18a(d), G.S.

 

6. It is also found that the respondent failed to prove that the tape recording of the August 25, 1988 executive session is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or any other applicable state statute or federal law.

 

7. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent violated 1‑19(a), G.S., by denying the complainants access to the tape recording of the August 25, 1988 executive session.

 

8. The respondent claims that it convened in executive session during its August 25, 1988 meeting to discuss personnel matters relating to the job of Richard Burns, an employee of the New Britain building department.

 

9. It is found that the respondent has the authority only to investigate the facts concerning how two condominium projects were partially built without building permits being granted; report those facts to the New Britain Common Council, the mayor and the building department; and offer recommendations for ameliorating the situation.

 

10. It is found that the respondent convened in executive session at its August 25, 1988 meeting to elicit testimony from the employee in question, who refused to testify in public, on the policies and procedures of the city building department.

 

11. It is further found that the respondent did not convene in executive session to discuss or evaluate the performance of the individual employee being questioned.

 

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

 

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

 

1. The respondent shall forthwith provide to the complainants access to the tape recording of the August 25, 1988 executive session.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑357 Page 3

 

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

 

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