FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Anthony F. DiPentima and Henrietta Milward,
against Docket #FIC 93-347
Hartford Court of Common Council,
Respondent July 13, 1994
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 1 and March 7, 1994, at which times 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 filed with this Commission on December 22, 1993, the complainants alleged that the respondent violated the provisions of the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act at its regular meeting of November 22, 1993 when it voted to approve an employment contract for the City Manager without proper prior public notice. The complainants requested that the respondent's November 22, 1993 vote to employ Henry Langley as City Manager be declared null and void by this Commission.
3. It is found that on November 22, 1993, the complainants were both members of the respondent.
4. It is also found that the complainants and the respondent (the current city council) each took the position at hearing that the provisions of the FOI Act were violated on November 22, 1993 and that the employment contract of Henry Langley should be declared null and void by this Commission.
5. It is found that the viability of Henry Langley's employment contract with the City of Hartford is the subject of pending litigation in Federal District Court.
6. At the hearing into this matter, Henry Langley was granted party status over the objections of the complainant and the respondent. Former council members Little, Simmons and Costello, who were seated on the council on November 22, 1993,
Docket #FIC 93-347 Page 2
and who wished to take a legal position differing from that taken by the respondent at hearing were granted intervenor status.
7. The complainants and the respondent argued that the respondent violated its own council rules on November 22, 1993.
8. This Commission lacks subject matter jurisdiction over alleged violations of the respondent's council rules.
9. It is found that the following agenda items appeared on the respondent's November 22, 1993 agenda:
[item] 42. (Mayor Perry)
City Manager de Execution of contract for.
[item] 43. (Mayor Perry)
Howard J. Stanback de Amending/termination
of contract with as City Manager.
10. It is found that in fact the respondent voted to appoint Henry Langley as the City Manager on November 22, 1993 and entered an employment agreement with defined terms including salary, disability, termination and severance pay, suspension and duties.
11. It is also found that the proposed employment contract naming Henry Langley as City Manager was made publicly available on the afternoon of November 22, 1993.
12. It is concluded that the agenda items identified in paragraph 9, above, do not reasonably apprise the public that the appointment of Henry Langley as City Manager was under consideration at the respondent's regular meeting of November 22, 1993.
13. It is found that the respondent failed to take a two-thirds vote to add Henry Langley to its filed agenda on November 22, 1993.
14. It is accordingly concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S., requiring an affirmative vote of two-thirds under the facts of this case.
15. Section 1-21i(b)(2), G.S., provides in pertinent part:
"The Commission may declare null and void any action taken at any meeting which a person was denied the right to attend... "
16. It is found that the November 22, 1993 meeting of the respondent was neither conducted in executive session, nor was
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that meeting a secret or unnoticed meeting. The November 22, 1993 meeting was a regular meeting and not a special meeting. Finally, there is no evidence presented in this case to suggest that any individual was otherwise denied the right to attend the respondent's regular meeting of November 22, 1993.
17. This Commission accordingly declines the parties' request that the employment contract between Henry Langley and the City of Hartford be declared null and void pursuant to this proceeding.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. The respondent shall cause a copy of this decision to be publicly posted in Hartford City Hall for a period of thirty days.
2. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 13, 1994.
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 93-347 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:
ANTHONY F. DiPENTIMA
200 Fairfield Avenue
Hartford, CT 06114
c/o William R. Breetz, Esq.
Rogin, Nassau, Caplan, Lassman & Hirtle
185 Asylum Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
HARTFORD COURT OF COMMON COUNCIL
c/o Charles L. Howard, Esq.
Shipman & Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103-2819
c/o W. Martyn Philpot, Jr., Esq.
P.O. Box 9501
New Haven, CT 06534-0501
SANDRA LITTLE, LOUISE SIMMONS and YOLANDA CASTILLO
c/o Denese Chisholm, Esq. and Rene' D. Crawford, Esq.
151 New Park Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission