FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Cindy Ouellette and Taxpayers Association of Norwich,
against Docket #FIC 92-194
Harold Soloff, Chairman, Norwich Charter Revision Commission and Norwich Charter Revision Commission,
Respondents January 27, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 10, 1992, at which time the complainants and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter dated June 8, 1992 and filed June 10, 1992, the complainants appealed to this Commission alleging that during a June 1, 1992 meeting of the respondent commission, the respondents:
a. improperly convened an executive session without
having authority to do so; and
b. impermissibly discussed the conduct of one of the
members of the respondent commission in executive
session, while ignoring the subject member's
request that the matter be discussed in open
3. The complainants further requested that the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-194 Page 2
impose a civil penalty against the City of Norwich (hereinafter "City"), since the city council was responsible for the appointment of the members of the respondent commission.
4. At the hearing on this matter, the complainants further indicated that they were seeking the imposition of a civil penalty against the City because the respondent commission is no longer in operation and the violation was intentional on the part of the respondent chairman.
5. Also at the hearing on this matter, the complainants withdrew their allegation described in paragraph 2a., above.
6. It is found that the respondent commission held a regular meeting on June 1, 1992 and that during the course of that meeting the respondent chairman entertained a motion to convene an executive session to "discuss a matter involving two of the commission's members," which motion passed by a vote of five to two.
7. Although the minutes of the June 1, 1992 meeting indicate that two members of the respondent commission would be discussed during the executive session, it is found that the executive session focused on one member of the respondent commission.
8. It is also found that the member of the respondent commission who was the subject of the executive session discussion was not notified in advance of the meeting that his actions would be discussed in executive session.
9. It is also found that the member of the respondent commission who was the subject of the executive session discussion indicated at the meeting that he desired the discussion to be held in public session, and questioned the legality of an executive session under the circumstances.
10. It is found that the members of the respondent commission thereafter voted in favor of convening an executive session.
11. Section 1-21, G.S., requires that "the meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions as defined in subsection (c) of subsection 1-18a, shall be open to the public."
12. Section 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., permits a public agency to convene an executive session for:
"discussion concerning the appointment, employment,
performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a
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public officer or employee, provided that such
individual may require that discussion be held at an
13. The respondents concede that the executive session discussion concerning the member of the respondent commission was impermissible under the Freedom of Information Act.
14. It is concluded that the respondents violated the provisions of 1-18a(e)(1) and 1-21, G.S., by failing to honor the member of the respondent commission's objection to the executive session discussion concerning him.
15. It is found that the respondent Chairman was aware of the hearing on this complaint but failed to attend.
16. It is further found that with respect to the respondent chairman, at whose behest the respondent commission convened an executive session, the violation described in paragraph 14 above, was without reasonable grounds.
17. It is found that the City is not directly responsible for the respondents' actions during the course of the respondent commission's June 1, 1992 meeting, and therefore the imposition of a civil penalty against the City would be inappropriate.
18. It is also found that because the complainants requested that the Commission impose a civil penalty only against the City in their letter of complaint, the respondents were not given adequate notice that they would have to defend against the imposition of a civil penalty at the hearing on this matter and therefore, the Commission declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondents.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The Commission shall provide a copy of the final decision on this complaint to the Norwich City Clerk, along with a request that the copy be posted in the office of the city clerk for a period of thirty days.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 27, 1993.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-194 Page 4
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:
Taxpayers Association of Norwich
153 West Thames Street
Norwich, CT 06360
Harold Soloff, Chairman, Norwich Charter Revision Commission and Norwich Charter Revision Commission
20 Cherry Street
Norwich CT 06360
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission