In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Michael Kelley and The Record-Journal
Publishing Company,
against Docket #FIC 1998-153
Executive Director, Meriden Community Action
Agency, City of Meriden; and Meriden Community
Action Agency, City of Meriden,
Respondents September 9, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 23, 1998, at 
which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, 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 May 27, 1998, and filed with the Commission on May 28, 
1998, the complainants appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents 
violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) on April 29, 1998 by holding an 
executive session of the executive committee of its Board of Directors without a lawful 
purpose (the “executive session”), and also by allowing attorney Lisa Barry to attend the 
executive session. Moreover, the complaint questioned “whether the proper procedures 
were followed to convene [the] executive session”, and at the hearing, the complainants 
elaborated by questioning whether the minutes of the executive session disclosed all 
persons who were in attendance, as required by 1-21g, G.S.
	3.  By a brief dated July 16, 1998 and at the hearing, the respondents argued that 
the executive session was proper pursuant to 1-18a(6)(B), G.S.,  and requested that the 
complainant newspaper company be “fined” because one of its reporters allegedly 
eavesdropped on the executive session.
	4.  Section 1-18a(6)(B), G.S., authorizes “executive sessions” for the purpose of:  
strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or 
pending litigation to which the public agency or a member 
thereof, because of his conduct as a member of such agency, 
is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally 
adjudicated or otherwise settled;
	5.  And 1-18a(9), G.S., defines “pending litigation” to include:
the agency's consideration of action to enforce or implement legal 
relief or a legal right.
	6.  With reference to procedures for convening an executive session, 1-21(a), 
G.S., states in pertinent part:
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.
	7.  And finally with reference to attendance at executive sessions and again to 
proper purposes for such sessions, 1-21g, G.S., states:
(a)  At an executive session of a public agency, attendance 
shall be limited to members of said body and persons 
invited by said body to present testimony or opinion 
pertinent to matters before said body provided that such 
persons' attendance shall be limited to the period for which 
their presence is necessary to present such testimony or 
opinion and, provided further, that the minutes of such 
executive session shall disclose all persons who are in 
attendance except job applicants who attend for the purpose 
of being interviewed by such agency.
(b)  An executive session may not be convened to receive 
or discuss oral communications that would otherwise be 
privileged by the attorney-client relationship if the agency 
were a non-governmental entity, unless the executive 
session is for a purpose explicitly permitted pursuant to 
subdivision (6) of section 1-18a.
	8.  It is found that the minutes of the April 29, 1998 meeting of the executive 
committee of the respondent agency’s board of directors did state the reasons for the 
executive session as being to discuss the mayor’s proposal to terminate city support of the 
respondent agency and his proposal to introduce legislation to terminate the ordinance 
that created the board. And it is found that these reasons, in fact, stated the subject matter 
of discussion at the executive session. 
	9.  It is found that attorney Lisa Barry was invited to the executive session to 
present legal opinion pertinent to the matters before said body, more specifically the 
subject matter referenced at paragraph 8, above.
	10.  It is also found that Alice Hazlett did cite 1-18a(e)(5), now re-codified as 1-
18a(6)(E), G.S., in connection with her motion to go into executive session and the 
minutes record this citation.
	11.  It is further found that the minutes did disclose all persons who were in 
attendance at the executive session.
	12.  Finally, it is found that the respondents on two occasions before the executive 
session sought FOIA guidance by telephone from the Commission.
	13.  Based upon the forgoing, it is concluded that the respondents’ consideration 
of how to respond to the mayor’s proposal discussed at paragraphs 8 and 9, above, was 
action to implement legal relief pursuant to 1-18a(9), G.S., and therefore that the 
executive session was convened for a lawful purpose pursuant to 1-18a(6)(B).  
	14.  It is also concluded that attorney Barry was lawfully present pursuant to 1-
21g(a), G.S.
	15.  It is further concluded that the respondents did “stat(e) the reasons for such 
executive session, as defined in said section 1-18a.” It is true that, because of the 
operation of 1-21g(b), G.S., and the lack of  any discussion of records as “described in 
subsection (b) of section 1-19”, the respondents did not “put the thread through the eye of 
the needle” by citing the legally correct subsection of 1-18a, G.S. But the intent to 
comply with all requirements of the FOIA with reference to executive sessions is clear, 
the respondents had no intent to mislead,  and the citation error was harmless. The 
respondents should not, as lay-persons, be found in violation simply because they failed 
to read together several different provisions of the FOIA and thus cited the wrong legal 
purpose (when they did, in fact, have another valid legal purpose as concluded at 
paragraph 13, above).
	16.  It is further concluded that the minutes did satisfy the requirement of 1-
21g(a), G.S., to disclose all persons who were in attendance at the executive session.
	17.  Finally, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-21(a) or 1-
21g(a), G.S., and that there is no basis in the FOIA for fining the complainant newspaper 
company as requested by the respondents and described at paragraph 3, 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 
September 9, 1998.

Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Michael Kelley and The Record-
Journal Publishing Company
11 Crown Street
Meriden, CT 06450 
Executive Director, Meriden 
Community Action Agency,
City of Meriden, and Meriden 
Community Action Agency, 
City of Meriden 
c/o Atty. Richard E. Hayber
Solomon, Krupnikoff & Wyskiel, PC
35 Pleasant St. - POB 835
Meriden, CT. 06450-0835

Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission