Judge upholds FOI decision; City Council may appeal

MERIDEN — The City Council is deliberating whether to appeal a recent Supreme Court decision to uphold a Freedom of Information Commission ruling that councilors violated the state’s open meeting requirements while discussing a city manager search in early 2016. 

The council discussed a possible appeal Tuesday in a closed-door session, but took no action. Majority Leader David Lowell said the council may review the matter again at an upcoming meeting.

“I need to interpret the decision that came out of the court to formulate my own opinion,” Lowell said after the meeting. “The council, as a body, would decide whether to pursue an appeal or not.” 

Six councilors, former city manager Lawrence Kendzior and Mayor Kevin Scarpati held a private meeting to discuss the process of hiring a new city manager in January 2016, putting forward a list of names for appointment to a search committee and discussing appropriate applicants.

The FOI Commission, prompted by a Record-Journal complaint, ruled in November 2016 that the meeting violated state law because the council didn’t issue a public notice. The ruling said the meeting went beyond agenda setting and ordered the city to strictly comply with open meeting rules moving forward, advising the city that leadership groups, which meet regularly prior to City Council meetings, could be considered a violation.

A New Britain Supreme Court judge in January upheld the FOI Commission’s decision, stating that the record supported the FOIC’s finding that the leadership group “decided what issue to bring before the council and drafted a detailed resolution for the council’s consideration”.

The ruling also found that “the leadership group reached the merits of the selection of the city manager, including discussing appropriate applicants.”


Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ


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