FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Thom Serrani,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 91-123

 

Stamford Board of Ethics,

 

Respondent September 25, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 15, 1991, at which time the complainant 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 filed with the Freedom of Information Commission on May 22, 1991, the complainant alleged that the respondent held an illegal confidential meeting on May 6, 199l.

 

3. The respondent admitted at the hearing that on May 6, 1991, it held a closed meeting which was improperly noticed and held at the offices of one of its members in violation of 1-21, G.S.

 

4. The respondent admitted further that it violated 1-21, G.S., by failing to vote to go into executive session at its May 6, 1991 meeting.

 

5. The respondent claimed, however, that its executive session was permissible under 1-18a(e)(2), G.S. because it concerned strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which it is a party.

 

6. It is found that the respondents did hold a closed meeting on May 6, 1991.

 

#FIC 91-123 Page 2

 

7. It is found that the minutes of the closed meeting disclose that the respondent discussed four matters at the May 6, 1991 meeting:

 

a) whether failure to comply with city purchasing and/or bidding rules and procedures constituted violation of the Code of Ethics of Stamford;

 

b) whether J. Marsalisi, a member of the respondent, should recuse himself from consideration of the E911 audit based upon a possible conflict of interest;

 

c) what evidentiary standard should the respondent adopt when it reached its decisions; and

 

d) whether the respondent should reaffirm its position regarding "probable cause" as discussed in the public hearing meeting of February 21, 1991.

 

8. It is found that although there is a pending declaratory judgment in the Stamford Superior Court that relates to matters presently before the respondent, the minutes of the meeting of May 6, 1991 make no reference to any discussion of strategy or negotiation with respect to pending claims and litigation.

 

9. It is concluded that the respondent failed to prove that the matters discussed by the respondent at its May 6, 1991 meeting were strategy and negotiation with respect to pending claims or litigation.

 

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 comply with the open meetings requirements of 1-21, G.S.

 

2. The Commission urges the respondent to comply carefully with 1-21, G.S., because violations in the future could result in the imposition of civil penalties in the amount of as much as one thousand dollars, pursuant to 1-21i(b), G.S.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 25, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

#FIC 91-123 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:

James R. Fogarty, Esq.

733 Summer Street

Stamford, CT 06901-1093

 

Michael P.A. Williams, Esq.

Marsh, Day & Calhoun

955 Main Street

Bridgeport, CT 06604

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission