FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Kevin Mayhood and the Journal
against Docket #FIC 90-111
East Windsor Board of Selectmen and the East Windsor Town Attorney,
Respondents September 26, 1990
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 2, 1990, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
The case was consolidated with #FIC 90-114, Arend J. Knuttel v. East Windsor Board of Selectmen, because of the similarity of the issues and the parties.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are a public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By complaint filed March 21, 1990, the complainants alleged that at its March 19, 1990 meeting the respondents held two illegal executive sessions.
3. It is found that prior to the March 19, 1990 meeting of the respondent Board of Selectman ("board", hereinafter), it held a meeting on January 26, 1990 to investigate complaints regarding the property of the Knuttel family.
#FIC 90-111 page two
4. It is found that the January 26, 1990 meeting was continued to March 16, 1990; however, no meeting was held on that date.
5. It is found that on March 16, 1990, a notice of special meeting was filed in the town clerk's office which stated that a special meeting of the respondent board would be held on March 19, 1990, to consider "Investigation-Accusations /complaints regarding Arend Knuttel in his official capacity as Chairman of the East Windsor Conservation Commission."
6. It is found that on March 19, 1990, just prior to the scheduled meeting an attorney representing Arend Knuttel delivered a letter to the respondent board.
7. It is found that the letter informed the respondent board that they had exceeded their authority by conducting an illegal investigation at the January 26, 1990 meeting.
8. It is found that the letter also stated that, if the investigation were to continue, the respondent board should put the general liability insurance carrier of the town on notice; and insofar as the investigation exceeded the authority of the respondent, Knuttel's attorney would advise him to look to hold the selectmen individually liable for any damages that he might suffer as a consequence of their actions.
9. It is found that after the meeting was called to order, the respondent board adopted a motion to go into executive session to discuss pending litigation and to consult with the respondent attorney.
10. It is found that during the executive session the respondents discussed the contents of the letter for approximately one half hour.
11. It is found that the letter from Knuttel's attorney was read aloud to the members of the public who were in attendance prior to proceeding with the business of the meeting.
12. It is found that during the meeting the respondent board received comments from the public, reviewed certain findings, and read correspondence.
13. It is found that the respondent board held a recess at 8:45 p.m.. and reconvened at 9:17 p.m.
14. It is found that the respondent board used the recess
#FIC 90-111 page three
to determine when to hold its next meeting.
15. It is concluded that the executive session, described above at paragraphs 9 and 10, was not held for a proper purpose within the meaning of 1-18(a)(e)(2), G.S., because it was not a discussion of pending claims or litigation.
16. It is concluded that the recess described above at paragraphs 13 and 14, was not an improper executive session because it was not a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent shall henceforth limit its executive sessions to the purposes which are set forth at 1-18(a)(e), G.S.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 26, 1990.
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission
#FIC 90-111 page four
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:
KEVIN MAYHOOD AND THE JOURNAL INQUIRER
306 Progress Drive
Manchester, CT 06040
EAST WINDSOR BOARD OF SELECTMEN AND EAST WINDSOR TOWN ATTORNEY
c/o John F. McKenna, Esq.
Goodman, Rosenthal & McKenna
60 Washington Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission