FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Edward J. Cotter, Jr. and The Evening Sentinel,
against Docket #FIC 90-235
Derby Board of Police Commissioners,
Respondent June 12, 1991
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 1, 1990, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
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 letter of complaint dated June 22, 1990 and filed with the Commission on June 25, 1990, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent disregarded the statutory limits on executive sessions at its June 5, 1990 meeting.
3. It is found that the respondent held a special meeting on June 5, 1990.
4. It is found that the respondent convened in executive session for the stated purpose of discussing personnel and budgetary problems.
5. It is found that the actual purpose of the executive session was to discuss proposed line item cuts in the respondent's budget.
6. It is found that the discussion in executive session concerned only the proposed budget cuts, and not any specific employees.
7. The respondent maintains that the discussion of the proposed line item budget cuts was permissible in executive session because cuts in the personnel budget would have to be negotiated with the union, and that there was some discussion of how the union would be approached if such personnel cuts were made.
Docket #FIC 90-235 Page 2
8. The Commission notes that nothing in 1-18a(e), G.S., permits discussion of strategy and negotiation with respect to collective bargaining in executive session, although 1-18a(b), G.S., excludes such subjects from the definition of a meeting subject to FOI Act requirements.
9. It is found that no personnel cuts were actually made in the respondent's budget and no plan or strategy was in fact formulated for approaching the union.
10. It is found that actual strategy and negotiation with respect to collective bargaining could, if the personnel budget had been cut, potentially have arisen at a later gathering, but were not in any meaningful sense the real subject of the June 5 discussion.
11. It is concluded that the respondent's discussion of proposed budget cuts was within the definition of a meeting as set forth in 1-18a(b), G.S., and was therefore not permissible in closed session.
12. It is concluded therefore that the respondent violated 1-18a(e) and 1-21(a), G.S., by discussing in closed session matters not within the scope of 1-18a(e), G.S., and not excluded from the meeting definition in 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 strictly comply with the requirements of 1-18a(e) and 1-21(a), G.S. Specifically, the respondent shall limit its executive sessions to the purposes set forth in 1-18a(e), G.S.
2. The Commission notes that it conducted an educational workshop for the benefit of the respondent in February of 1991, at which time the requirements of 1-18a(e) and 1-21(a), G.S., were discussed generally. Should the respondent have any remaining questions about those requirements, the Commission staff is available to answer questions during regular office hours.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 12, 1991.
Karen J. Haggett
Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 90-235 Page 3
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:
EDWARD J. COTTER, JR. AND THE EVENING SENTINEL
241 Main Street
ansonia, CT 06401
DERBY BOARD OF POLICE COMMISSIONERS
C/O Francis A Teodosio, Esq.
40 Franklin Street
Ansonia, CT 06401
Karen J. Haggett
Clerk of the Commission