FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Lourdes O'Neal Haynes and Voices,

 

Complainants,

 

against Docket #FIC 89-171

 

Newtown Legislative Council and Newtown Board of Selectmen,

 

Respondents October 25, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 3, 1989, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. This case was consolidated with Docket #FIC 89-180 for hearing.

 

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

 

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

 

2.On May 31, 1989, the respondents had a joint meeting during which they convened in executive session to discuss whether to sue the State of Connecticut concerning a jail to be built in Newtown.

 

3. Present in the executive session were all three members of the respondent board, sixteen of the respondent council's eighteen members, and a town attorney.

 

4. By letter dated June 1, 1989, and filed with the Commission on June 5, 1989, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging the executive session was held for an impermissible purpose.

 

5. It is found that the respondents publicly stated the purpose for their executive session and more than two-thirds of each agency's members present voted to convene in exeuctive session, as required by 1-21(a), G.S.

 

6. It is found that in the executive session the attorney showed the respondents' members a draft complaint, and the members discussed whether and where to file suit.

 

Docket #FIC 89-171 Page Two

 

7. It is also found, however, that on May 31, 1989, no lawsuit or other claim to be adjudicated was pending that concerned the jail and to which either respondent was a party.

 

8. It is found that no such lawsuit was filed until July 5, 1989.

 

9. It is concluded, therefore, that 1-18a(e)(2), G.S., does not permit the topics described in paragraph 6, above, to be discussed in executive session.

 

10. It is further concluded that the respondents violated 1-21(a), G.S., by convening in executive session to discuss an impermissible topic.

 

The following order of the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the entire record in the above-captioned complaint:

 

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

 

2. The respondents shall cause to be posted in the town clerk's office or on the town clerk's bulletin board a copy of the final decision in this case for 30 days after receipt of the notice of final decision.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 25, 1989.

 

 

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 89-171 Page Three

 

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

LOURDES O'NEIL HAYNES AND VOICES

Box 383

Southbury, CT 06488

 

NEWTOWN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

c/o David L. Grogins

158 Deer Hill Avenue

Danbury, CT 06810

 

NEWTOWN BOARD OF SELECTMAN

19 Church Hill Road

Newtown, CT

 

 

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission