FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Gateway Communities, Inc.,

 

Complainant, Docket #FIC 86-248

 

against May 27, 1987

 

President, Southwest Regional Mental Health Board, Inc. and Southwest Regional Mental Health Board, Inc.,

 

Respondents

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 30, 1986, and January 8, February 19, and March 10, 1987, at which times the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated July 29, 1986, the complainant requested copies of the following records from the respondents:

 

a. documents used as a basis for a review panel

of the respondents, chaired by Mr. Robert Arnold;

 

b. information concerning operation of the panel, how

its members were chosen, and how votes were taken;

 

c. a report adopted by the Catchment Area Council 1-2

and the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board, Inc.,

in their respective meetings held in May 1986,

recommending defunding Gateway Communities;

 

d. draft notes that were the basis for the report,

including the community questionnaires;

 

e. and any documents or records of the panel, on the

defunding issue or the Gateway Community, which the

complainant did not have yet.

 

Docket #FIC 86-248 Page Two

 

3. By letter dated August 4, 1986, the respondents denied the complainant's request for the records described in paragraph 2d above.

 

4. The respondents fulfilled the complainant's request for the records described in paragraphs 2a, b, c, and e above.

 

5. The respondents claim the questionnaires are exempt from disclosure because they promised confidentiality to agencies participating in the survey. The respondents only have an incomplete version of the questionnaires. The United Way of Stamford has the complete questionnaires.

 

6. It is found that the incomplete questionnaires held by the respondents are public records, as defined by 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

7. It is further found that incompleteness or promises of confidentiality do not exempt these records from the disclosure required for all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency under 1-19(a), G.S.

 

8. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents violated 1-19(a), G.S., by not giving the complainant copies of the incomplete questionnaires in their files.

 

9. The respondents also claim the notes in question are preliminary notes exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(1), G.S.

 

10. It is found that the draft notes in question are preliminary notes within the meaning of 1-19(b)(1), G.S.

 

11. It is further found that the respondents determined the public interest in withholding the notes clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosing them, as required by 1-19(b)(1), G.S.

 

12. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents may chose to withhold the notes from disclosure under 1-19(b)(1), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 86-248 Page Three

 

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

 

1. The respondents forthwith shall provide the complainant with a copy of the incomplete questionnaires described in paragraphs 2d and 5 above.

 

2. In the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act, the Commission encourages the respondents to obtain a copy of the complete questionnaires from the United Way of Stamford and provide this complete copy to the complainant.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 27, 1987.

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission