FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Louis Annino Sr.,
   Jean A. Orsatti,  
  against Docket #FIC 2004-004

Planning and Zoning Commission,

Town of Wolcott,

 
  Respondent  July 28, 2004
       

     

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 10, 2004, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      By letter dated December 31, 2003 and filed on January 2, 2004, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by discussing the complainant, as Deputy Zoning Enforcement Officer, in executive session without giving her notice or an opportunity to require that the discussion be held at an open meeting.

 

3.      Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that: “[t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions , as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, shall be open to the public.”

 

4.      Section 1-200(6), G.S., provides in relevant part that “[e]xecutive 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 . . . .”

 

5.      The Commission has previously concluded that in order for an employee to have an opportunity to require that a discussion of her employment be held at an open meeting, the public agency wishing to convene in executive session must provide such employee meaningful notice of such discussing.

 

6.      It is found that the respondent held regular meetings on December 3 and December 17, 2003, during which it convened executive sessions and discussed the complainant’s employment as Deputy Zoning Enforcement Officer. 

 

7.      It is found that by letter dated December 2, 2002, the respondent requested the attendance of the complainant at all its meetings, unless she provided proof that she was working at her other place of employment. 

 

8.      It is found that the agendas for the respondent’s meetings generally list “executive session” as an item.

 

9.      At the hearing on this matter, the respondent contended that the December 2, 2002 letter, described in paragraph 7, above, and the fact that the respondent’s agenda generally has “executive session” as an item, served as sufficient notice to the complainant., that she would be discussed in executive session at the December 3 and December 17, 2003 regular meetings.  The respondent also contended that had the complainant attended the meetings, as requested, she would have known that she was to be discussed in executive session and could have required that the discussion be held at an open meeting at that time. 

 

10.  It is found, however, that a year old letter requesting conditional attendance at all meetings, coupled with the unspecific and standard agenda item, “executive session,” did not provide notice of the discussions described in paragraph 6, above, to the complainant. 

 

11.  It is found, therefore, that the respondent failed to provide meaningful notice to the complainant that her appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal would be discussed at the December 3 and December 17, 2003 meetings and thereby, denied the complainant the opportunity to require that those discussions be held at an open meeting.

 

12.  Consequently, it is concluded that the respondent violated 1-225(a), G.S. and 1-200(6)(A), G.S.

 

 

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

 

            1.  Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-225(a) and 1-200(6)(A), G.S.

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 28, 2004.

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

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:

 

Jean A. Orsatti

34 Woodcrest Avenue

Wolcott, CT  06716

 

Planning and Zoning Commission,

Town of Wolcott

c/o Karen Senich, Esq.

Tynan & Iannone

250 Wolcott Road

Wolcott, CT  06716

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2004-004/FD/abg/07/29/2004