FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Tom Scott,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-310
Board of Commissioners, Milford
Housing Authority,
Respondents February 10, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 14, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The case caption has been amended to reflect the appropriate name of the respondent.

        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(1), G.S.

        2. By letter dated and filed with the Commission on October 7, 1998, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by improperly voting, or otherwise predetermining a vote, during an executive session or an unnoticed or secret meeting, prior to a special meeting of the respondent held on September 28, 1998. As remedy, the complainant asked that the Commission declare the vote taken at the September 28, 1998, meeting null and void.

        3. It is found that, between June, 1998 and September 28, 1998, the respondent was in consideration of an offer to settle two civil actions in which the respondent was a named defendant (hereinafter "the settlement").

        4. It is found that the respondent took public comment on the subject of the settlement during an information workshop on August 4, 1998, as well as during its regular meetings of June 9, 1998, August 11, 1998, and September 8, 1998, and its special meeting of September 28, 1998.

    5. It is further found that, during its meetings of June 9, August 11, and September 8, 1998, the     respondent convened in executive session to discuss strategy and negotiations with respect to the settlement, pursuant to 1-18a(6)(B), G.S.

        6. It is found that, on September 28, 1998, the respondent held a special meeting during which it heard public comment on the settlement and then voted on such settlement without debate. It is further found that, immediately after such vote, the chairman of the respondent issued and delivered a 14 page prepared statement, which contains the statements "…[w]e have witnessed the Board by a vote of 3 to 2 conclude its involvement as a defendant in the Fair Housing Lawsuit…[o]bviously we were not able to reach a unanimous vote…."

        7. The complainant contends that the prepared statement described in paragraph 6, above, could not have been written unless the chairman knew of the outcome of the vote prior to the September 28, 1998 special meeting.

        8. However, it is found that the statement described in paragraph 6, above, was prepared by the respondent’s chairman in anticipation of the vote as he presumed it would be recorded after having participated in the executive sessions described in paragraph 5, above. It is further found that, had the vote not gone as he so anticipated, the chairman would not have released such statement.

        9. It is found that the respondent debated, but did not vote on, the settlement during the executive sessions described in paragraph 5, above. Rather, it is found that, after deliberating on the settlement in such sessions, the members of the respondent were ready to vote on same and that such vote was properly held in open session during the September 28, 1998 meeting.

        10. It is found that there is no evidence in the record to prove that the respondent held an unnoticed or secret meeting in violation of the FOI Act.

        11. Based on the record in this matter, it is concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.

        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 February 10, 1999.

 

 

_________________________

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:

 

Tom Scott
PO Box 5106
Milford, CT 06460
Board of Commissioners,
Milford Housing Authority
c/o Atty. David P. Atkins
and Atty. Sarah W. Poston
Zeldes, Needle & Cooper
1000 Lafayette Boulevard
PO Box 1740
Bridgeport, CT 06601-1740

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-310FD/mrb02161999