In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Raymond R. Baginski, Sr. and the Southington Taxpayers Association, Inc.,




against Docket #FIC 86-124


Southington Town Council,


Respondent July 1, 1986


The above captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 27, 1986, at which time the complainants 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. By letter dated April 28, 1986 the complainant Baginski made an inquiry of the respondent regarding the issuance of a legal opinion to the press.


3. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on May 8, 1986 the complainant Baginski alleged that his request had been denied.


4. At the hearing before the Commission, the complainant Baginski explained that an article appeared in a local newspaper concerning the Mulberry construction project and contained therein were statements alluding to a legal opinion that had been released by the respondent. This was the legal opinion being requested by the complainant in the letter referred to in paragraph 2, above.


5. The complainant Baginski also alleged that the town attorney's legal opinions are not kept in the town hall, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.


Docket #FIC 86-124 Page 2


6. It is found that the complainant Baginski letter dated April 28, 1986 to the respondent was not a request to inspect or copy a public document, but was simply an inquiry regarding what action, if any, had been taken by the respondent with respect to the Mulberry construction project.


7. It is also found that the complainant did not articulate a request to inspect or copy public documents concerning the project in question until the day of the hearing before the Commission.


8. It is found that it is inappropriate for the Commission to consider the request made by the complainant at the time of the hearing because it is not clearly within the scope of the complaint.


9. With respect to paragraph 5, above, it is found that there is no centralized location where the written opinions of the town attorney are kept. When a request for a legal opinion is made, the legal opinion is given to the person from the respective agency who made the request and remains in the office thereof.


10. It is found that the respondent violates no provision of the Freedom of Information Act by not keeping all of the legal opinions issued by the town attorney in a centralized place.


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


1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.


2. The Commission notes, however, that pursuant to 1-19, G.S., each agency shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business and if there is no such office or place of business, the records shall be kept in the office of the town clerk. Consequently, the public records of the respondent council should be kept in the office of the town clerk unless there has been an office so designated.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 25, 1986.


Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission