FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Wilbur S. Hughes and
Robert P. LeBlanc,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-333
Town Council, Town of Watertown;
and Town of Watertown,
Respondents March 24, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 21, 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 October 22, 1998, the complainants appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by discussing in executive session subjects other than one of the five permissible subjects listed in 1-18a(6),G.S., in that the respondents discussed the town police department’s bike patrol, Megan’s Law, the town police department’s D.A.R.E. program, 7-92, G.S., and legal issues not on the agenda.

        3. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that "the meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-18a, shall be open to the public . . ."

        4. Section 1-18a(6), G.S., provides that:

"Executive sessions" means a meeting of a public agency at which the public is excluded for one or more of the following purposes: (A) 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; (B) 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; (C) matters concerning security strategy or the deployment of security personnel, or devices affecting public security; (D) discussion of the selection of a site or the lease, sale or purchase of real estate by a political subdivision of the state when publicity regarding such site, lease, sale, purchase or construction would cause a likelihood of increased price until such time as all of the property has been acquired or all proceedings or transactions concerning same have been terminated or abandoned; and (E) discussion of any matter which would result in the disclosure of public records or the information contained therein described in subsection (b) of section 1-19.

        5. At the hearing in this matter, the complainants withdrew their complaint with respect to the allegation that the respondents violated the FOI Act by convening in executive session to discuss 7-92, G.S.

        6. At the hearing in this matter, the respondents argued that the executive session and the discussion which took place therein were permissible pursuant to 18a(6)(C), G.S.

        7. It is found that the respondent council held a meeting on October 5, 1998 and convened in executive session during that meeting.

        8. It is found that, during the executive session, the respondent council discussed the town police department’s bike patrol program and that such discussion involved the deployment of officers assigned to that program.

        9. It is found that, during the executive session, the respondent council discussed Megan’s Law with respect to the manner in which the police department would deploy its officers within the town to monitor those on the list generated pursuant to Megan’s Law.

        10. With respect to the discussions described in paragraphs 8 and 9, above, it is found that such discussions related to matters concerning security strategy, the deployment of security personnel, or devices affecting public security within the meaning of 1-18a(6)(C), G.S.

        11. It is found that the respondent council entered into executive session to discuss the police department’s D.A.R.E. program and that the discussion involved the police department’s use of manpower to conduct the program and funding for the program.

        12. It is found that the discussion described in paragraph 11, above, was not related to matters concerning security strategy, the deployment of security personnel, or devices affecting public security within the meaning of 1-18a(6)(C), G.S., nor does any other permissible purpose within 1-18a(6), G.S., apply to such discussion.

        13. It is found that the respondent council did not discuss any legal issue in executive session at its October 5, 1998 meeting.

        14. It is concluded that the respondent council violated the FOI Act by failing to discuss in open session the town police department’s D.A.R.E. program at its October 5, 1998 meeting.

 

        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 open meetings provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 24, 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:

 

Wilbur S. Hughes and
Robert P. LeBlanc
c/o Wilbur S. Hughes
370 French Street
Watertown, CT 06795
and c/o Robert P. LeBlanc
78 Highland Avenue
Watertown, CT 06795
 

Town Council, Town of
Watertown; and Town of
Watertown
c/o Atty. Randall S. McHugh
Reiner, Reiner & Bendett, PC
160 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06032

 

 

 

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-333FD/mrb03251999