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 88‑386

 

Building Department Investigative Committee of the New Britain Common Council; Chairman, Building Department Investigative Committee of the New Britain Common Council; and New Britain Common Council

 

Respondents September 28, 1988

 

The above‑captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 26, 1988, at which time the complainants and the respondents 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, 88‑357 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:

 

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1‑18a(a), G.S.

 

2. The respondent committee convened in executive session during its meetings of August 25, 1988 and September 21, 1988.

 

3. By letter dated September 22, 1988, and filed with the Commission on September 23, 1988, the complainants appealed to the Commission, requesting an expedited hearing pursuant to 1‑21i(b), G.S.

 

4. The respondents claim that the respondent committee convened in executive session at its August 25, 1988, meeting to discuss personnel matters relating to the job of Richard Burns, an employee of the New Britain building department.

 

5. The respondents also claim that the respondent committee convened in executive session at the September 21, 1988, meeting to discuss personnel matters relating to the job of Norman Wnuk, an employee of the New Britain building department.

 

Docket #88‑386 Page Two

 

6. It is found that the respondent committee 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 respondent common council, the mayor, or the building department; and offer recommendations for ameliorating the situation.

 

7. It is found that the respondent committee convened in executive session at both its August 25 and September 21, 1988, meetings to elicit testimony from the employees in question, who refused to testify in public, on the policies and procedures of the city building department.

 

8. It is further found that the respondent committee did not convene in executive session to evaluate the performance of the individual employees being questioned.

 

9. Thus it is concluded that the respondent committee did not convene in executive session for a purpose permitted under 1‑18a(e), G.S.

 

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

 

11. It is further found that the respondent committee had insufficient time at its September 21, 1988, meeting to interview Raymond Sachs, an employee of the New Britain building department.

 

12. It is found that the respondent committee has called a meeting for September 28, 1988, to interview Raymond Sachs.

 

13. It is found that there is probable cause to believe that the respondent committee will convene in executive session at its September 28, 1988 meeting to interview Raymond Sachs, continuing a practice that is in violation of 1‑18a(e) and 1‑21(a), G.S.

 

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

 

1. The respondent committee henceforth shall not meet in executive sessions for the purpose of eliciting testimony from building department employees on department policies and procedures.

 

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

 

Docket #FIC 88‑386 Page Three

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of September 28, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission