FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by                        FINAL DECISION

 

Nancy Valentine and Ansonia Republican Town Committee,

 

                        Complainants

 

            against              Docket #FIC 94-327

 

Ansonia Board of Ethics,

 

                        Respondent                  May 24, 1995

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 10, 1995, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  This case was consolidated for hearing with docket number FIC 94-317, Christopher Hoffman and The New Haven Register v. Cynthia Ryall, Rev. Robert Condron, Bruce R. Goldson, Sr., Carol V. Androski and Ansonia Board of Ethics.

 

            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 September 14, 1994 and filed with the Commission on September 16, 1994, the complainants appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by;

 

                        a.  voting in executive session on September 6, 1994 to terminate an investigation into a complaint brought against Mayor Thomas F. Hallihan ("the investigation"); and

 

                        b.  failing to indicate in its September 6, 1994 minutes the time the executive session ended.

 

            The complainants request that the Commission declare the September 6, 1994 vote null and void, and also impose civil penalties upon each member of the respondent.

 

Docket #FIC 94-327                                     Page 2

 

            3.  It is found that the respondent held a special meeting on September 6, 1994, during which four of its members: Cynthia Ryall, Robert Condron, Bruce R. Goldson, Sr. and Carol V. Androski, convened in executive session ("the executive session").

 

            4.  It is found that the four members of the respondent, described in paragraph 3, above, voted while in the executive session to terminate the investigation.

 

            5.  Section 1-18a(e), G.S., permits discussions in an executive session for certain limited purposes.

 

            6.  It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-18a(e), G.S., when it voted while in the executive session to terminate the investigation.

 

            7.  It is also concluded that nothing in 1-82a and 7-148h, G.S., nor the Ansonia Code relieved the respondents of their responsibility to conduct its vote concerning termination of the investigation in public.

 

            8.  Further, it is found that voting in public would have in no way divulged the nature of the allegations made in the underlying complaint, nor would it have compromised the confidentiality of the respondent's evaluation thereof.

 

            9.  Section 1-19(a), G.S., requires that each public agency make, keep and maintain a record of the proceedings of its meetings.

 

            10.  It is found that the respondent's September 6, 1994 minutes are so sparse that they do not adequately nor meaningfully apprise the public of the respondent's proceedings.

 

            11.  It is found that at a minimum, the respondent's minutes should reflect the length of the entire September 6, 1994 proceedings, including the executive session.

 

            12.  It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to maintain minutes which adequately reflect the proceedings of September 6, 1994.

 

            13.  It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-18a(e) and 1-19(a), G.S., when it voted in executive session, and failed to maintain an adequate record of the September 6, 1994 proceedings.

 

            14.  The Commission in its discretion declines to issue a null and void remedy in this case.

 

Docket #FIC 94-327                                   Page 3

 

            The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

            1.  The respondent shall forthwith reconstruct its minutes so as to reflect the length of the entire September 6, 1994 proceedings, including the executive session.

 

            2.  Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the meeting provisions of the FOI Act.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 24, 1995.

 

                                                                 

                                    Debra L. Rembowski

                                    Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 94-327                           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:

NANCY VALENTINE AND ANSONIA REPUBLICAN TOWN COMMITTEE

c/o Richard S. Bruchal, Esq.

330 East Main Street

Ansonia, CT 06401

 

ANSONIA BOARD OF ETHICS

c/o James E. Sheehy, Esq.

303 Wakelee Avenue

Ansonia, CT 06401

 

                                                                 

                                    Debra L. Rembowski

                                    Clerk of the Commission