OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|John M. Leahy,|
|against||Docket #FIC 2002-094|
First Selectman, Town of Columbia; and
Board of Selectmen, Town of Columbia
|Respondent||June 26, 2002|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 30, 2002, at which time the complainant 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 §1-200(1), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint dated March 5, 2002 and filed with the Commission on March 6, 2002, the complainant appealed, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying him access to inspect and copy “all official correspondence, memos, etc.” and minutes of the respondent board’s executive session meetings, concerning recent litigation to which the complainant was a party (hereinafter “litigation”). The complainant further alleged that the respondents violated §7-12b, G.S., by their failure to keep minutes of their executive sessions concerning the litigation.
3. It is found that on February 4, 2002, the complainant requested that the respondent board provide him with an opportunity to inspect and copy “all official correspondence, memos, etc.” and minutes of the respondent board’s executive session meetings concerning the litigation.
4. It is found that by letter dated February 8, 2002, the respondent First Selectman acknowledged the request and informed the complainant that the requested records were being gathered and that he would be notified as soon as they were ready for his inspection and copying at the Town Hall.
5. It is found that upon being notified that the requested records were ready the complainant visited Town Hall on February 21, 2002 and inspected the records provided to him. It is found that no minutes of executive sessions were among the records and the complainant was informed that the respondent board does not take minutes of its executive sessions.
6. It is found that by letter dated February 25, 2002, the complainant renewed his records request as described in paragraph 3, above.
7. It is found that the respondent First Selectman, by letter dated February 26, 2002 informed the complainant that all the records requested had been provided to him and that the respondent board does not keep minutes of executive sessions.
8. Thereafter, the complainant filed this complaint.
9. At the hearing in this matter the complainant informed the Commission that he received the records requested, with the exception of the minutes of executive sessions, and that he accepts the representation of the respondent First Selectman that the requested records, except the minutes, were provided to him. Consequently, the only issue outstanding with respect to this complaint is whether the respondent board is required to keep minutes of its executive sessions.
10. The complainant contends that executive sessions are “meetings”, albeit not open to the public, and because the respondent board is required to keep minutes of all of its meetings pursuant to the FOI Act, the respondent board is in violation of such Act when it fails to keep minutes of its executive sessions.
11. It is concluded however, that there is no requirement in the FOI Act, or prohibition, that the respondent board keep minutes of the discussions at its executive sessions.
12. Consequently, it is further concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by not keeping minutes of the executive session discussions concerning the litigation.
13. With respect to the complainant’s allegation that the respondent board violated §7-12b, G.S., such provision provides that:
The boards of selectmen shall keep an accurate record of all minutes of their meetings which shall be available for public inspection at reasonable times.
14. It is concluded that although this Commission lacks jurisdiction to enforce §7-12b, G.S., such provision does not address the specific issue presented here, that is, the keeping of minutes of an executive session.
15. Because the respondents have not violated any provision of the FOI Act, the complaint must therefore be dismissed.
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.
2. The Commission notes that while there is no requirement in the FOI Act that the respondent keep minutes of the discussions at its executive sessions, §1-231(a), G.S., does require the disclosure of all persons who are in attendance at an executive session, except job applicants who attend for the purpose of being interviewed by the agency.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 26, 2002.
Petrea A. Jones
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:
John M. Leahy
32 Wildwood Drive
Columbia, CT 06237
First Selectman, Town of Columbia;
and Board of Selectmen,
Town of Columbia
c/o Stanley Falkenstein, Esq.
113 East Center Street
Manchester, CT 06040-5243
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission