FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Susan G. Kniep

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 86-41

 

Office of Town Clerk, Town of East Hartford

 

Respondent March 26, 1986

 

The above captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 27, 1986, 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:

 

1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. On February 13, 1986, the complainant orally requested a copy of page 5 of the minutes of the November 29, 1984 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting. An employee of the respondent office asked the complainant "if she were requesting the document as a taxpayer or as a town councillor." After responding that she was requesting the record as a town councillor, the complainant was denied access to the requested record.

 

3. From the denial of access to the requested information, the complainant appealed to the Commission by letter of complaint filed on February 14, 1986.

 

4. At the hearing, the respondent agreed the record in question is a public record under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

5. Also at the hearing, the complainant and respondent agreed that the Commission could take administrative notice of testimony, evidence and exhibits in FIC #80-25 and FIC #84-140 and apply them to this case.

 

Docket #FIC 86-41 Page 2

 

6. The respondent claims that the complainant was not denied access to the requested record.

 

7. The respondent further claims that Section 3.8 in the Charter of the Town of East Hartford prohibits members of the town council from requesting copies of records directly from departments of the town government, but that all such requests must be made through the mayor's office.

 

8. The respondent states that had the complainant complied with 3.8 of the town charter, she would have obtained the requested record.

 

9. It is found that 1-15, G.S., does not precondition disclosure of a public record on whether or not the person making the request is doing so as a public official.

 

10. It is further found that a municipality cannot, by local law, supersede the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

11. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to disclose the requested record to the complainant solely on the basis of her being a member of town council.

 

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 comply with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by promptly providing copies of public records to any person who makes such a request regardless of whether they are making it as a public official.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 26, 1986.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission