FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Bradshaw Smith,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-330
Chairman, Capitol Region Council of
Governments; and Capitol Region Council
of Governments,
Respondents May 12, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 3, 1999 at which time the complainant 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 of complaint dated and filed on October 24, 1998, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act with respect to a meeting held on September 23, 1998 by:

a. failing to put on the agenda the executive session;

b. failing to take a vote to add the executive session to the agenda;

c. discussing in the executive session a subject not appropriate for executive session; and

d. voting during the executive session.

        3. It is found that the respondents held a special executive council meeting on September 23, 1998 (hereinafter "meeting"), during which they convened in executive session (hereinafter "executive session"), and discussed the annual evaluation of the respondent council’s Executive Director.

        4. Section 1-225(a), G.S. (formerly 1-21(a), G.S.), provides in relevant part: "[A] public agency may hold an executive session as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, 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."

        5. With respect to the allegations described in paragraph 2b, 2c and 2d, it is found that the respondent council obtained a two-thirds vote prior to going into the executive session. It is also found that the respondent council’s discussion of the Executive Director’s evaluation was a proper subject matter for executive session. It is further found that the respondent council did not vote during the executive session.

        6. However, it is also found that the respondent meeting minutes are inaccurate and misleading with respect to the votes taken by the respondents. Such inaccuracies appear to have contributed to the complainant filing the complaint in this matter, believing that the respondent council did not obtain the two-thirds vote prior to convening in executive session and also believing that the respondents’ vote creating a subcommittee occurred during the executive session.

        7. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2a, above, it is found that the executive session was not noticed on the meeting agenda. While the respondents did not violate any FOI provision in this regard, if the respondents knew at the time they were developing their meeting agenda that they intended to have the Executive Director’s evaluation discussion in executive session, including such executive session discussion on the meeting agenda would have provided the public with more meaningful notice.

        8. It is therefore, concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged in the complaint. However, it is further concluded that the inaccuracies in the minutes understandably led the complainant to conclude that the votes taken at the meeting were not in accordance with the FOI requirements.

 

        The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

        1. The complaint is dismissed.

        2. The respondents should however, correct their meeting minutes to correctly reflect that the votes taken at the meeting were in keeping with the requirements of the FOI Act.

 

 

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 12, 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:

 

Bradshaw Smith
23 Ludlow Road
Windsor, CT 06095
Chairman, Capitol Region
Council of Governments;
and Capitol Region Council
of Governments
c/o Stephen Cassano
Chairman
Capitol Region Council
of Governments
241 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06106
and
Jon Colman
Capitol Region Council
of Governments
241 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06106
and
Richard Porth
Executive Director
Capitol Region Council
of Governments
241 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06106

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-330FD/mrb/05201999