FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Arend J. Knuttel
against Docket #FIC 90-114
East Windsor Board of Selectmen
Respondent September 26, 1990
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 2, 1990, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
The case was consolidated with #FIC 90-111, Kevin Mayhood and the Journal Inquirer v. East Windsor Board of Selectmen and the East Windsor Town Attorney, 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By complaint filed March 23, 1990, the complainant alleged that the March 19, 1990 meeting of the respondent violated the Act in the following ways:
(a) the respondent failed to post proper notice for the
(b) the respondent prepared an inaccurate agenda;
(c) the respondent held two executive sessions for
(d) the respondent failed to state the reason for the
executive sessions and failed to allow the complainant to require that the executive sessions be held in public.
#FIC 90-114 page two
3. It is found that the complainant is chairman of the East Windsor Conservation Commission.
4. It is found that prior to the meeting of the respondent on March 19, 1990, the respondent held a meeting on January 26, 1990 to investigate complaints regarding the property of the Knuttel family.
5. It is found that the January 26, 1990 meeting was continued to March 16, 1990; however, no meeting was held on that date.
6. 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 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."
7. 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.
8. It is found that the letter informed the selectmen that they had exceeded their authority by conducting an illegal investigation at the January 26, 1990 meeting.
9. It is found that the letter also stated that, if the investigation were to continue, the respondent should put the general liability insurance carrier of the town on notice; and insofar as the investigation exceeded the authority of the respondent, the complainant's attorney would advise the complainant to look to hold the selectmen individually liable for any damages that he might suffer as a consequence of their actions.
10. It is found that after the meeting was called to order, the respondent adopted a motion to go into executive session to discuss pending litigation and to consult with its attorney.
11. It is found that during the executive session the respondent discussed the contents of the letter with its attorney for approximately one half hour.
12. It is found that the letter from the complainant's attorney was read aloud to the members of the public who were in attendance prior to proceeding with the business of the meeting.
#FIC 90-114 page three
13. It is found that during the meeting the respondent received comments from the public, reviewed certain findings, and read correspondence.
14. It is found that the respondent held a recess at 8:45 p.m.. and reconvened at 9:17 p.m.
15. It is found that the respondent used the recess to determine when to hold its next meeting.
16. It is concluded that the March 19, 1990 was a special meeting, rather than a continuation of the January meeting.
17. It is concluded that the respondent did post proper notice for the meeting.
18. It is concluded that the agenda satisfied the notice provisions of 1-21, G.S.
19. It is concluded that the executive session, described above at paragraphs 10 and 11, 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.
20. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21 and 1-18(a)(e), G.S., by failing to state a proper purpose for its executive session.
21. It is concluded that the recess described above at paragraphs 14 and 15, was not an improper executive session because it was not a meeting within the meaning of 1-18(a)(b), G.S.
22. It is concluded, because the executive session itself was improper, that the respondent did not violate 1-21 and 1-18a(e), G.S., by failing to inform the complainant that he had a right to have the discussion held in public .
23. The complainant has requested that all actions of the respondent with respect to the complainant be declared null and void.
24. It is concluded, since the respondent has not taken any action with respect to the complainant, that there is nothing which the Commission can declare null and void.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
#FIC 90-114 page four
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 90-114 page five
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:
AREND J. KNUTTEL
c/o Anthony C. DeFilippis, Jr., Esq.
Cohn & Birnbaum, P.C.
100 Pearl Street
Hartford, CT 06103
EAST WINDSOR BOARD OF SELECTMEN
c/o John F. McKenna, Esq.
Goodman, Rosenthal & McKenna
60 Washington Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission