FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Anthony T. Straka and Municipal Employees Union "Independent,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 87-87

 

Mattabassett District,

 

Respondent August 26, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 18, 1987, 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 February 6, 1987, the complainants requested copies of all records regarding any corrective action taken by the respondent in response to employee construction related safety complaints.

 

3. By letter dated February 13, 1987, the respondent denied the complainants' request, stating that employee construction related safety complaints had been referred to the U.S. Department of Labor-OSHA Division, and enclosed a copy of its letter to the U.S. Department of Labor-OSHA Division.

 

4. By letter dated February 18, 1987, the complainants modified their request, asking for copies of all correspondence concerning employee construction related safety complaints between the respondent and the following parties: Crouse Combustion Systems; U.S. Department of Labor-OSHA Division; and Connecticut Labor Department-OSHA Division.

 

5. Having received no reply from the respondent, by letter dated March 25, 1987 and filed with the Commission on March 26, 1987, the complainants alleged the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act in its refusal to release records concerning employee construction related safety complaints.

 

Docket #FIC 87-87 Page 2

 

6. By letter dated May 4, 1987 and filed with the Commission on May 7, 1987, the complainants amended their complaint, reiterating their request and denial of certain records, more fully described in paragraph 4, above.

 

7. At the hearing, the respondent claimed:

 

a. It was uncertain as to the scope of the complainants' request.

 

b. Some of the records requested do not exist.

 

c. It would permit the complainants to inspect its files and obtain copies of its records.

 

8. It is found that on or about May 1985, the respondent and Crouse Combustion Systems entered into a construction contract to upgrade the respondent's water pollution control plant.

 

9. It also is found the respondent failed to release to the complainants copies of the following records:

 

a. A complaint filed by an employee of the respondent with the Connecticut Labor Department-OSHA Division.

 

b. Minutes of bimonthly meetings of a committee, comprised of general contractors, subcontractors, a consultant engineer and the respondent, where job safety violations were addressed.

 

c. A report issued by the Connecticut Labor Department-OSHA Division in response to a complaint filed by an employee of the respondent.

 

d. Documents concerning the placement of barricades by the respondent around excavations at its water pollution control plant.

 

10. It also is found that the records, as more fully described in paragraphs 9a, 9b, 9c, and 9d, above, constitute public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S., and are subject to disclosure under 1-19(a), G.S.

 

11. It also is found that Desmond Smith, an independent contractor who oversees contractor relations with the respondent, keeps a journal in which he records all of his conversations with the respondent's contractors.

 

Docket #FIC 87-87 Page 3

 

12. It also is found that the journal, as more fully described in paragraph 11, above, may contain information within the scope of the complainants' request.

 

13. It further is found that to the extent the respondent is entitled to access to the independent contractor's journal, as more fully described in paragraph 11, above, it is a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S., and is subject to disclosure under 1-19(a), G.S.

 

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

 

1. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainants with copies of the records, as more fully described in paragraphs 9a, 9b, 9c, and 9d of the findings, above.

 

2. To the extent the respondent is entitled to access to the independent contractor's journal, as more fully described in paragraph 11 of the findings, above, it shall forthwith obtain access to that record. If the journal contains information concerning employee construction related safety complaints, the respondent shall allow the complainants access to inspect or copy, under 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., any information contained in the journal which falls within the scope of their request.

 

3. Henceforth, the respondent shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 26, 1987.

 

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission