FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
against Docket #FIC 90-453
Gregory P. Massad, Martin T. Olsen, William Nahas, Anthony Basilica, William Satti, Leo Jackson and New London City Council,
Respondents August 28, 1991
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 7, 1991, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Docket #FIC 90-466 was consolidated for hearing with the above-captioned matter.
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. By letter of complaint filed with this Commission on November 23, 1990, the complainant alleged that the respondents illegally convened an executive session at its November 9, 1990 special meeting (hereinafter "meeting").
3. The complainant's specific allegations against the respondents were that:
a) the notice of meeting failed to cite the specific claim or litigation that was the subject of the strategy session held in executive session; and
b) the notice of meeting gave the wrong statutory authority for convening the executive session; and
c) the respondents invited the city manager to attend the executive session, although his opinion or testimony was unnecessary on the matter considered in executive session; and
d) a possible contract award is not a proper subject for discussion in executive session.
Docket #FIC 90-453 Page 2
4. The complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties against the named respondents.
5. At the hearing the complainant requested that the Commission take administrative notice of its final decisions in docket #'s FIC 90-217 and 88-364.
6. The Commission takes administrative notice of its final decisions in contested case docket #'s FIC 90-217 and 88-364.
7. It is found that at the respondents' November 9, 1990 special meeting an executive session was called and convened to discuss a pending claim.
8. The respondents concede that the notice of special meeting did not state the name of the litigation to be discussed.
9. At the hearing the respondents testified that they now include the title of the litigation to be discussed in executive session on their agenda or notice of meeting.
10. It is found that by failing to identify the specific claim or litigation to be discussed in executive session, the respondents' notice of meeting did not give meaningful notice to the public about the business to be conducted at the meeting.
11. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents violated 1-21(a), G.S., by not stating the reason for the executive session in such a way as to give meaningful notice to the public of the business to be conducted.
12. It is found that the respondents' error in the citation of the statutory basis for calling and convening an executive session was an unintentional clerical error.
13. It is found that nothing in either 1-18a(e) or 1-21, G.S., requires an agency to cite the statutory basis for convening an executive session.
14. It is found that the attendance at the executive session was not limited to members of the respondents' council.
15. It is found that the city manager was invited to and did attend the executive session, and then was allowed to remain in attendance throughout the executive session.
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16. It is found that the city manager is the chief executive officer for the city, and as such provided opinion and testimony to the respondents in the executive session regarding the resolution of the pending litigation.
17. Section 1-21g(a), G.S., limits attendance at a properly convened executive session to agency members and persons invited to give opinion or testimony for the period necessary for the presentation of such testimony or opinion.
18. It is found that the respondents failed to prove that the city manager's presence throughout the entire executive session was for purposes permitted in 1-21g(a), G.S.
19. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated the executive session provisions as set forth in 1-21g(a), G.S., by permitting the city manager to remain in attendance throughout the entire executive session.
20. It is found that during the executive session a contract award was discussed as part of the strategy for handling the matter in litigation.
21. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty as requested by the complainant.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondents shall act in strict compliance with the notice provisions of 1-21(a), G.S., and shall limit the attendance at a properly convened executive session as set forth in 1-21g(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 28, 1991.
Karen J. Haggett
Clerk of the Commission
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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:
281 Gardner Avenue, J4
New London, CT 06320
Myron B. Bell, Esq.
Director of Law
325 Captain's Walk
New Londin, CT 06320
Karen J. Haggett
Clerk of the Commission