In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Ronald M. Gregory,




against Docket #FIC 86-243


Wallingford Town Clerk,


Respondent December 10 , 1986


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 30, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared 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 August 29, 1986 the complainant submitted a request to the respondent for access to inspect recall petitions "re Papale, Rys, Polanski, Holmes and Killen."


3. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on August 29, 1986 the complainant alleged that the respondent had failed to comply with his request to inspect the recall petitions.


4. By letter dated September 2, 1986 the respondent informed the complainant that the recall petitions referred to in his August 29, 1986 letter "were not accepted by my office and are not maintained or kept on file in my office."


5. It is found that on July 25, 1986 an attempt was made to file with the respondent eight recall petitions against eight town officials. On the advice of the town attorney, Vincent McManus, the petitions were rejected by the respondent and were removed from the respondent's office by the individual attempting delivery. It was the opinion of Mr. McManus that no more than three recall petitions could be filed at one time.


6. On August 8, 1986 an attempt was made to file four petitions, which petitions were rejected by the respondent and removed from the respondent's office by the individual attempting delivery.


Docket #FIC 86-243 Page Two


7. At some time prior to August 13, 1986 three recall petitions against three town officials were accepted by the respondent for filing.


8. On August 13, 1986 five more recall petitions against five other town officials were delivered to the respondent by Gino Zandri. Upon delivering the petitions Mr. Zandri stated that upon the advice of his attorney he was leaving the petitions with the respondent and that he did not need or want a receipt for the documents. The respondent acknowledged Mr. Zandri's statement, making reference to Mr. McManus's instructions regarding petitions.


9. After Mr. Zandri left, the respondent contacted Mr. McManus, who indicated his belief that the petitions "belonged in the trash." The respondent then went to the office of the mayor, who told her to seal the box of petitions and to deliver it to Mr. McManus's office, which she did.


10. On August 27, 1986 the complainant telephoned the respondent to tell her that he would be at her office at 9:00 a.m. on August 29, 1986 to inspect the five recall petitions left by Mr. Zandri. The respondent stated that she did not have the petitions but would try to retrieve them from Mr. McManus.


11. On August 29, 1986 the complainant appeared at the respondent's office but was told by the respondent, by telephone, that she had not been able to retrieve the petitions from Mr. McManus. The complainant requested and was granted access to inspect the three petitions filed prior to August 13, 1986.


12. It is found that the five recall petitions left by Mr. Zandri on August 13, 1986 were not prepared, owned, used, received or retained by the respondent within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S. The respondent had, prior to August 13, 1986, made it clear that she would not accept any more than three petitions at a time. Mr. Zandri's statement at the time of delivery indicated his awareness of the respondent's position and his expectation that the petitions would not be accepted.


13. It is concluded that the respondent's inability, on August 29, 1986, to provide the complainant with access to inspect the five recall petitions did not violate 1-15 or 1-19(a), G.S.


Docket #FIC 86-243 Page Three


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.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at is regular meeting of December 10, 1986.


Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission