FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Charles Peterson, Patrick Dubel,
Jerome Looby and Josh Kovner,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-127
Affirmative Action Arbitration
Panel, City of Hartford; and City
of Hartford,
Respondents September 23, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 17, 1998, 
1997, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain 
facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The case caption 
has been amended to correct the spelling of the name of one complainant.
	After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and 
conclusions of law are reached:
	1.   By letter dated April 29, 1998, and filed with the Commission on May 1, 
1998, the complainants alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information 
Act (“FOI”) Act by: 
a)  not permitting the tape recording of an April 2, 1998 meeting of the 
respondent panel; and 
b)  denying one complainant access to such meeting.  
The complainants requested that a civil penalty be imposed upon the respondents and that 
they receive costs associated with filing and prosecuting this complaint.  
	2.   It is found that, in accordance with the Affirmative Action Plan of the City of 
Hartford, the respondent panel was created at the direction of the city’s personnel 
department.  It is also found that such panel consisted of three members who were 
employees of the city and who were the equal employment opportunity liaisons within 
their own departments.  It is further found that the purpose of creating the respondent 
panel was to conduct a hearing which would resolve differences related to affirmative 
action grievances filed by complainants Looby and Dubel against certain officials of the 
Hartford Fire Department.  
	3.   It is found that the respondent panel met on April 2, 1998 and that all three 
members attended such meeting.  
	4.   It is further found that the respondents denied complainant Kovner access to 
the April 2, 1998 meeting.  It is further found that the respondents denied complainants 
Peterson, Looby and Dubel the right to tape record such meeting.   
	5.   Section 1-21(a), G. S., in relevant part states:
The meetings of all public agencies, except executive 
sessions as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-18a, shall 
be open to the public.…
	6.   Section 1-21a(a), G.S., in relevant part states:
At any meeting of a public agency…proceedings of such 
public agency may be recorded, photographed, broadcast or 
recorded for broadcast, subject to such rules as such public 
agency may have prescribed prior to such meeting, by any 
person….
	7.   The respondents contend that the April 2, 1998 meeting described in 
paragraph 3, above, was not a meeting subject to the provisions of the FOI Act.  Rather, 
the respondents contend that such meeting was a part of the confidential affirmative 
action complaint process, and that a finding that such meeting, and meetings like it, are 
open to the public would deter others from filing affirmative action complaints in the 
future.    
	8.   Section 1-18a(2), G.S., in relevant part states:
"[m]eeting" 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…to discuss 
or act upon a matter over which the public agency has 
supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.  
"Meeting" shall not include…an administrative or staff 
meeting of a single-member public agency….
(Emphasis added).
	
	9.   Section 1-18a(1), G.S., in relevant part states:
"Public agency" or "agency" means any executive, 
administrative or legislative office of the state or any political 
subdivision of the state and any state or town agency, any 
department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority 
or official of the state or of any city, town, borough, municipal 
corporation, school district, regional district or other district or 
other political subdivision of the state, including any 
committee of, or created by, any such office, subdivision, 
agency, department, institution, bureau, board, commission, 
authority or official
(Emphasis added).
	10.   It is found that the respondent panel is a committee created by the personnel 
department of the City of Hartford.
	11.  It is therefore concluded that the respondent panel is a “public agency” within 
the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S., and that its meetings are subject to the provisions of the 
FOI Act.
	12.  It is found that when the respondent panel met on April 2, 1998 it was a 
convening of a quorum of a multi-member public agency.   
	13.  It is concluded that the April 2, 1998 meeting was a “meeting” within the 
meaning of 1-18a(2), G.S., and that therefore the respondents violated 1-21(a), G. S., 
by denying complainant Kovner access to the April 2, 1998 meeting, as described in 
paragraphs 3 and 4, above.  
	14.  It is further concluded that the respondents violated 1-21a(a), G.S., by 
denying complainants Peterson, Looby and Dubel the right to tape record the April 2, 
1998 meeting, as described paragraphs 3 and 4, above.  
	15.  The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty in this matter and is 
without authority to award the complainants costs, as requested in their complaint.
	The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of 
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
	1.  Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-
21(a) and 1-21a(a), G.S.
	2.  The respondents’ contentions described in paragraph 7 of the findings, above, 
while perhaps superficially appealing from a policy public policy standpoint lack 
supporting evidence.  In any event, the respondents’ contentions must fail in view of the 
requirements of the FOI Act.  Moreover, it is noted that the FOI Act provides for 
confidentiality of certain discussions concerning employee evaluations.  Specifically, 1-
18a(6), G.S., provides that public agencies may meet in executive session to discuss 
“…the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a 
public officer or employee,…” provided that the subject of the discussion agrees to a 
closed session.  However, the respondents have not contended that the April 2, 1998 
meeting described in paragraph 3, above, was a valid executive session.


Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of 
September 23, 1998.

_________________________
Melanie R. Balfour
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:
Charles Peterson
136 Wheeler Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109
Patrick Dubel
36 Seneca Drive
Vernon, CT 06066
Jerome Looby
104 Bidwell Street
Glastonbury, CT 06033
Josh Kovner
Hartford Courant
285 Broad Street
Hartford, CT 06115
Affirmative Action Arbitration 
Panel, City of Hartford; and City 
of Hartford 
c/o Atty. Karen K. Buffkin
Assistant Corporation Counsel
550 Main Street
Hartford, CT. 06103


__________________________
Melanie R. Balfour
Acting Clerk of the Commission




FIC1998-127FD/mrb09241998