FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Nancy Doniger and The Monroe Courier,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-058
Chairman, Monroe Board of Police
Commissioners, Town of Monroe; and
Monroe Board of Police Commissioners,
Town of Monroe,
Respondents August 26, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 18, 1998, 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(1), G.S.
	2.   By letter dated February 26, 1998 and filed March 3, 1998, the complainants 
appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of 
Information (“FOI”) Act by excluding the public from two sessions of the respondent 
board which took place on the evening of February 5, 1998.  The complainants asked that 
the respondent board’s meeting of February 5, 1998 be declared null and void, that the 
respondent board be ordered to reschedule such meeting, that the respondent board be 
ordered to hold all future grievance hearings in open session when the grievant waives a 
closed hearing, and that the respondent board be ordered to file minutes of meetings in 
accordance with the FOI Act.   At the hearing in this matter, the complainant asked for 
additional remedies.  
	3.   It is found that the respondents scheduled a regular meeting for 7:30P.M. on 
February 5, 1998, and that the posted agenda for such meeting listed a possible hearing 
and action on a union grievance.  It is further found that an amended agenda was later 
posted and that such amended agenda announced that the respondent board would 
conduct a grievance meeting with the police union at 7:00P.M. on the evening of 
February 5, 1998, and, further, that such meeting would not be subject to FOI Act 
requirements.  
	4.   It is found that the respondents assembled at 7:00P.M. on the evening of 
February 5, 1998 together with their attorney and that the discussion in such session 
consisted of strategy related to the union grievance described in paragraph 3, above.  It is 
further found that the public was excluded from this session.  
	5.   It is also found that the respondents, upon noting that the time was 
approximately 7:45P.M., convened its regular meeting in open session.  It is further found 
that the respondents shortly thereafter recessed such meeting in order to continue the 
discussion described in paragraph 4, above, and that the public was excluded from this 
session, as well.   
	6.   It is found that, pursuant to the collective bargaining contract controlling the 
grievance described in paragraph 3, above, the respondent board must meet with the 
appropriate union representative to determine if resolution of the grievance is possible.
	7.   It is found that at one point during the session described in paragraph 5, 
above, the grievant and his union representative were included in the discussion in order 
to determine if the union would be representing the grievant, as well as to determine the 
manner in which the grievant wished to proceed.  It is found that during such session, the 
union representative informed the respondents that he would represent the grievant, and 
the greivant informed the respondents that he wished a public hearing on his grievance.  It 
is further found that no evidence was presented at the recess.   
	8.   It is found that the respondents reconvened the public portion of the regular 
meeting and thereupon conducted a public hearing on the grievance.  It is found that the 
union representative read a statement in the course of such open hearing but presented no 
other evidence.  It is further found that the opposing party to the grievance, the Monroe 
police chief, was given an opportunity to present evidence but declined to do so.   It is 
further found that the respondent board did not allow public participation in the hearing 
described herein.  
	9.   At the hearing on this matter, the complainants alleged that the respondents 
conducted illegal executive sessions by failing to vote to exclude the public from the 
sessions described in paragraphs 4 and 5, above.  The complainants also alleged that the 
respondents violated the FOI Act by failing to file minutes of such sessions.  The 
complainants further alleged that the respondents violated the FOI Act by declining to 
allow public participation in the hearing described in paragraph 8, above.    

	10.   Section 1-21(a), G.S., in relevant part provides: 
[t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive 
sessions as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-18a, shall 
be open to the public.  The votes of each member of any 
such public agency upon any issue before such public 
agency shall be reduced to writing and made available for 
public inspection within forty-eight hours and shall also be 
recorded in the minutes of the session at which taken, 
which minutes shall be available for public inspection 
within seven days of the session to which they refer.…  A 
public agency may hold an executive session as defined in 
subdivision (6) of section 1-18a, upon an affirmative vote 
of two-thirds of the members of such body present and 
voting, taken at a public meeting and stating the reasons for 
such executive session, as defined in said section 1-18a.
	11.  The respondents contend that the sessions described in paragraphs 4 and 5, 
above, were not meetings of the respondent board pursuant to 1-18a(2), G.S. 
	
	12.  Section 1-18a(2), G.S., in relevant part provides that a “meeting” means:
… any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any 
convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember 
public agency, and any communication by or to a quorum 
of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by 
means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a 
matter over which the public agency has supervision, 
control, jurisdiction or advisory power.  "Meeting" shall not 
include …strategy or negotiations with respect to collective 
bargaining…. [Emphasis added].
	13.  It is found that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, the sessions 
described in paragraphs 4 and 5, above, did not constitute meetings of the respondent 
board within the meaning of 1-18a(2), G.S.  Therefore, it is concluded that the notice, 
minutes, and voting requirements which attach to meetings pursuant to 1-21(a), G.S., 
did not apply to such sessions.  It is further concluded that the respondents did not 
violate 1-21(a), G.S. by failing to comply with such requirements.
	14.  Since the FOI Act does not mandate that public agencies allow public 
participation in its meetings, it is concluded that the Commission cannot sustain the 
complainants’ allegation, described in paragraph 9, above, related to the respondents’ 
decision to prohibit public comment during the hearing described in paragraph 8, 
above. 
	The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of 
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
	1.  The complaint is hereby dismissed. 



	Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular 
meeting of August 26, 1998.


_________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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 Doniger and The Monroe Courier
Hometown Publications
1000 Bridgeport Avenue
Shelton, CT 06484
Chairman, Monroe Board of Police 
Commissioners, Town of Monroe; and 
Monroe Board of Police Commissioners, 
Town of Monroe
c/o Atty. Catherine Thompson
Sullivan, Schoen, Campane & Connon, LLC
24 Stony Hill Road, Suite 106
Bethel, CT 06801-1166

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission




FIC1998-058/FD/tcg/08281998