BOF member files FOI complaint about illegal council meeting

Michael A. Riccio (R) has been under fire recently. A finance board member recently filed a Freedom of Information Act complaint in Hartford about the Southington council chair’s actions.

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

Democratic Board of Finance member John Moise filed an official complaint to the state’s Freedom of Information Commission in Hartford this week. Moise said that he mailed the document on Tuesday, Aug. 8 in regards to a meeting held by town councilors on the morning of Aug. 1.

According to the FOI complaint, Council chair Michael Riccio met with councilors Victoria Triano, Tom Lombardi and Paul Champagne—all Republicans—at a meeting in Mike Fasulo’s office, who is the Parks and Recreation Board chair. In the report, Moise states that Republican councilors Ed Pocock III and Cheryl Lounsbury were not invited, nor were candidates William Dziedzic and Peter Santago.

The complaint says that Democratic minority leader Christopher Palmieri and Democratic councilor John Barry were not invited to the meeting either, but Dawn Miceli (D) contributed to the discussion via phone.

For a copy of the FOI complaint, click here: John Moise FOI Complaint 080817

These facts led Moise and other town officials to believe that an illegal meeting took place. His FOI complaint says, “These individuals did in fact meet illegally and violated Connecticut General Statutes and/or regulations under the FOI Act, and in by doing so, we, along with the population of Southington, have been denied a right guaranteed by the Freedom of Information Act.”

Controversy sparked around town, online, and in the local press regarding the meeting because the councilors discussed plans to vote for Town Attorney Mark Sciota as town manager upon current manager Garry Brumback’s retirement.

Brumback emailed councilors on Aug. 1 announcing his retirement at the year’s end, and Moise said the meeting was held to “solidify five votes” in favor of Sciota when the council takes action.

“I would like to be clear that this is about a process and transparency in our local government,” Moise said about filing the FOI complaint. “This has nothing to do with the individual, male or female selected for the position of Southington Town Manager.”

A regularly scheduled town council meeting for Aug. 14 was cancelled and rescheduled to Aug. 21. Moise said in the FOI document that Riccio canceled the Aug. 14 meeting because Triano, one of the five councilors that committed to voting for Sciota, would be away on vacation and not able to attend.

The general public was not privy to information or minutes from the meeting, but councilors have verbally confirmed what was said. The complaint requests a civil penalty (fine) to be imposed as a result of the illegal meeting.

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