FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Doris M. Bradshaw,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-19

 

Theresa Rodman Mesick, President of Indian Cove Association and Indian Cove Association,

 

Respondents April 22, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 4, 1987, at which time 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. In a Final Decision in FIC #85-27, Ilse M. Kern and Gunther Kern v. Indian Cove Association, Inc. of the Town of Guilford, issued July 25, 1985, the respondent association was ordered by the Commission to make its records accessible to the public. It was ordered to do so either by establishing a regular office or place of business, with public accessibility and regular business hours, or by making arrangements for its records to be maintained in the office of the clerk of the Town of Guilford.

 

3. On or about January 16, 1987 the complainant sent a certified letter to the respondent president asking for notification, pursuant to 1-21c, G.S., of all meetings of the respondent association and for agendas of all meetings. The complainant also asked for a list of the names of the "Elected, Executive Committee and any other Committee members," the date of the yearly audit and the names "of those so qualified to conduct such audit."

 

4. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on January 29, 1987 the complainant alleged that as of January 20, 1987 the respondents had not placed on file in the Guilford town hall any records for the year 1986 or 1987 and that receipt of her certified letter had been refused by the respondent president.

 

Docket #FIC 87-19 Page Two

 

5. In her complaint the complainant also expressed concerns regarding enforcement of parking restrictions, the alleged failure of the respondent association to comply with its charter and bylaws, the composition of various committees of the respondent association and the alleged failure to produce an audit of the treasurer's books. In a letter filed with the Commission on February 11, 1987 the complainant reiterated the comments in her letter of complaint and added the allegation that the respondent association had improperly held meetings in locations inaccessible to handicapped persons. Such matters, however, are not within the jurisdiction of the Commission and will not be treated in this report.

 

6. In her letter of complaint the complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondents, but at hearing withdrew such request.

 

7. At hearing the complainant indicated that two days earlier she had located, filed with documents from 1976, records of the respondent association covering the period up to August, 1986, but that nothing more recent was on file.

 

8. The respondent association held meetings on September 3, 1986 and on October 15, 1986. The respondents claim that minutes of such meetings are on file in the Guilford town clerk's office, as are all other minutes, and were placed on file in a timely manner.

 

9. It is found that with the exception of minutes of meetings, all records of the respondent association are kept in the home of the respondent president, in violation of 1-19(a), G.S. The respondents offered no excuse for such a practice and were apparently unaware of their responsibilities with respect to ensuring accessibility to their records.

 

10. It is found that the few records that are actually kept on file in the Guilford town clerk's office are not filed or maintained in a manner which allows the public access to such records, in violation of 1-19(a), G.S.

 

11. The respondent president claims she did not accept the certified letter from the complainant because it was sent to her home rather than to the post office box used for agency business and because she thought the letter contained personal criticisms.

 

12. It is found that because the respondent association has held no meetings since the complainant's January 16, 1987 request, the respondent president's failure to accept the complainant's certified letter did not deny the complainant notice or the agenda of any meeting.

 

Docket #FIC 87-19 Page Three

 

13. It is further found that, except with respect to the request for notices of meetings and the agendas thereof, the complainant's January 16, 1987 letter was a request for information, not a request for public records. Nothing in the Freedom of Information Act requires an agency to compile data in response to an inquiry.

 

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

 

1. The respondents shall, for a period of one year, provide the complainant with notice, pursuant to 1-21c, G.S., of all meetings of the respondent association and of its executive committee meetings. Such one-year period shall begin on the third day following the issuance of the Notice of Final Decision in this matter. The complainant may thereafter renew her request for such notice pursuant to 1-21c, G.S.

 

2. In addition to the notice required by 1-21c, G.S., the respondents shall provide the complainant with a copy of the agenda of each regular meeting and a copy of the notice of each special meeting held during the one-year period referred to at paragraph 1 of the order, above.

 

3. The respondents shall forthwith compile the data referred to at paragraph 3 of the findings, above, and, within one week of the Final Decision in this matter, shall provide the complainant with such data and with copies of the minutes of its meetings of September 3, 1986 and October 15, 1986.

 

4. The respondent association, within two weeks of the Final Decision in this matter, shall make its records accessible to the public either by establishing a regular office or place of business, with public accessibility and regular business hours, or by making arrangements for its records to be maintained in the office of the clerk of the Town of Guilford.

 

5.     The respondents are hereby ordered to appear at a supplemental hearing, to be held at a date to be determined but no sooner than two weeks following the issuance of the Final Decision in this matter, in order to offer evidence of their compliance with paragraphs 3 and 4 of the order, above. Pursuant to 1-21k(b), G.S., failure to comply with an order of the Commission constitutes a class B misdemeanor and any such failure may be referred to the Office of the State's Attorney.

 

Docket #FIC 87-19 Page Four

 

6. The respondents shall arrange with the commission's staff to have a staff attorney present a program on the Freedom of Information Act at the June 1982 meeting of the respondent association. The respondents shall give notice of this program to all of its members.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 22, 1987.

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission