A little less than a month ago, I reported on a Freedom of Information appeal that I filed because of the Town Council’s overuse (and often illegal use) of closed-door executive sessions. For those who missed it, here is what I said about executive sessions in that post.
State law says that Town Council meetings must be open to the public with only a few exceptions. In those rare cases where the Town Council can exclude the public, the meeting is called an “executive session.” There are only five permissible reasons for holding an executive session and they are listed in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-200(6) (scrolls down to Subsection 6 from the link for the list). An example of a legitimate reason would be discussions of the health of a Town employee (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-200(6)(A)) or certain public security issues (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-200(6)(C)).
The post also included this link to the hearing officer’s proposed decision, which found that the Town Council violated the open meeting law and the proposed decision included an order for mandatory training for the Town on complying with the Freedom of Information Act.
In an interview with the Stratford Star, Town Attorney Tim Bishop said that the Town “followed the FOIA laws to the letter” and that “We anticipate that the final ruling will confirm that the town proceeded properly.” He was wrong.
Yesterday, the full Commission adopted the hearing officer’s proposed decision without change and made the decision final. It is another step in the right direction for transparency and open government in Stratford. Maybe next time they’ll do the right thing from the beginning.