FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Chris Morrill and The Hartford Courant,
against Docket #FIC 94-361
Windsor Locks Board of Police Commissioners,
Respondent August 23, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 16 and 17, 1995, 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 October 13, 1994, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the FOI Act at its October 5, 1994 meeting by (a) conducting a "caucus" attended by the Democratic members of the respondent together with the Democratic members of the Windsor Locks board of finance; (b) convening in executive session when an executive session was not specified in the notice of the meeting; and (c) convening an executive session for the stated purpose of discussing personnel matters, and instead discussing the broad subject of overtime pay without discussing particular individual employees.
3. It is found that the respondent held a special meeting on October 5, 1994.
4. It is found that the notice of the meeting contained only one item, the discussion of "manpower supplement."
5. It is found that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss current overtime budget problems and to ask the board of finance to consider restoring funds to the overtime account.
6. It is found that the matters discussed included the overtime budget, contractual requirements for days off under the collective bargaining agreement, and minimum staffing policy.
Docket #FIC 94-361 Page 2
7. It is found that the board of finance was present at the October 5, 1994 meeting.
8. It is found that the respondent's meeting recessed at 7:50 p.m. and resumed at 8:10.
9. It is found that the Democratic members of the board of finance caucused during the respondent's recess, but that no members of the respondent attended that caucus.
10. It is found that, following the recess, the chairman of the board of finance made a public statement to the reconvened respondent concerning the overtime request.
11. It is found that the respondent, after deciding to send a letter to the board of finance suggesting how temporarily to pay the overtime and requesting a solution from the board of finance, convened in executive session for the stated purpose of discussion of a "personnel matter."
12. With respect to the complainant's allegation in paragraph 3a, above, it is found that the Democratic members of the respondent did not convene a caucus at the October 5, 1994 meeting.
13. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 3b, above, it is concluded that nothing in the FOI Act requires the respondent, in its notice of meeting, to state its intention to convene in executive session.
14. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 3c., above, the respondent maintains that the executive session was permitted by 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.
15. Section 1-21(a), G.S., permits an agency to convene in executive session for the limited purposes defined in 1-18a(e), G.S.
16. Section 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., in turn permits an agency to convene in executive session:
for discussion concerning the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee, provided that such individual may require that discussion be held at an open meeting ....
17. It is found that no individual employees were notified that they would be discussed in executive session, as would be consistent with an executive session called pursuant to 1-18a(e)(5), G.S., and that the respondent failed to prove that any such employees were discussed.
Docket #FIC 94-361 Page 3
18. It is further found, making a logical inference from all the facts in this case, that the respondent continued to discuss the matter of overtime funding in executive session.
19. It is also found that the respondent provided no direct evidence to contradict that inference.
20. It is concluded that discussion of methods or causes of overtime funding does not constitute discussion concerning the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee, within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.
21. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a) and 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., by discussing such matters in executive session.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-21(a) and 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.
2. The respondent shall forthwith file with the appropriate municipal agency minutes of the portion of the October 5, 1994 meeting conducted impermissibly in executive session. A copy of such minutes shall be forthwith delivered to the complainants. The minutes of the matters conducted impermissibly in executive session shall be as detailed as the minutes of the remainder of the meeting.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 23, 1995.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 94-361
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:
Mr. Chris Morrill
The Hartford Courant
285 Broad Street
Hartford, CT 06115
Windsor Locks Board of Police Commissioners
c/o Christopher R. Stone, Esq.
Chadwick, Libbey, Szilagyi & Stone
287 Main Street
East Hartford, CT 06118
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission