FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Mark Goodwin,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-509
Board of Finance, Town of Plymouth,  
  Respondent July 11, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 30, 2007, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  By letter of complaint dated September 28, 2006, and filed on October 2, 2006, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by holding an executive session on August 30, 2006 (hereinafter “executive session”).  Specifically, the complainant alleges that the executive session was improper because it was held:

 

a.       for the purpose of discussing employment issues of the Assistant Tax Collector; and

 

b.  without giving the person discussed an opportunity to have the discussion in public.

 

3.  Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:

 

The 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., in relevant part, provides:

 

(6)  “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. 

 

5.  Section 1-225(f), G.S., further provides:

 

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 section 1-200.  [Emphasis added].

 

6.  It is found that the respondent held a special meeting on August 30, 2006 (hereinafter “meeting”), during which the respondent convened in executive session.

 

7.  It is found that the respondent’s agenda for the meeting indicated the following, in relevant part:

 

2.       Executive Session for Purposes of Discussing The Employment Issues Of the Assistant Tax Collector

 

3.  Take Action From Executive Session If Necessary.

 

8.  It is found that during the executive session the respondent discussed performance and employment issues regarding Tina Mathews (hereinafter “the Assistant Tax Collector”) as well as issues regarding funding the position under the budget and the workload of the Tax Collector’s Office.  It is found that the Assistant Tax Collector position was ultimately terminated.

 

9.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondent contended that the discussion concerning the funding of the position and the workload in the Tax Collector’s office, as described in paragraph 8, above, was permitted as a personnel matter.  However, it is found that such discussion was not a discussion concerning the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee, within the meaning of 1-200(6), G.S.

 

10.  It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-225(a), and 1-200(6), G.S., by convening in executive session for an improper purpose with respect to the portion of the discussion described in paragraph 9, above.

 

11.  It is also concluded that to the extent that the discussion held in executive session concerned the employment and performance of the Assistant Tax Collector, it was properly held in executive session within the meaning of 1-200(6)(A), G.S.

 

12.  It is further found that prior to the executive session, Jan Krampkitz, Mayor, Town of Plymouth (hereinafter “Mayor Krampkitz”) informed the Assistant Tax Collector that the respondent intended to discuss her performance, employment and possible dismissal and gave her an opportunity to request that the discussion be conducted in open session.  In this regard, the Assistant Tax Collector was asked if she would prefer to have the discussion held during an open meeting.  The Assistant Tax Collector indicated that it was her preference to have the discussion held in executive session.  In a memorandum to the Assistant Tax Collector, Mayor Krampkitz confirmed the Assistant Tax Collector’s preference.

13.  It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-200(6)(A), G.S., as alleged in paragraph 2b., above, when it convened the executive session with respect to the portion of the discussion described in paragraph 11, above.

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

1.  Henceforth, the respondent board shall strictly comply with 1-225(a), G.S.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 11, 2007.

 

________________________________

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:

 

Mark Goodwin

5 South Street

PO Box 239

Plymouth, CT 06782-0239

 

Board of Finance,

Town of Plymouth

c/o Patrick J. McHale, Esq.

Kainen, Escalera & McHale, P.C.

21 Oak Street

Hartford, CT 06106

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2006-509FD/paj/7/17/2007