In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Paul Gough,




against Docket #FIC 87-292


Mayor, Office of the Town Attorney and Public Utilities Commission of the Town of Wallingford,


Respondents March 9, 1988


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 13, 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. By letter dated September 9, 1987, the complainant requested the respondent mayor provide him with:


a. all copies of all records referring to him by name and/or address that were created, compiled or received by any employees, officials, office or department of the Town of Wallingford on or between December 1, 1986, and 6 p.m. on September 8, 1987,


b. and all records received from consultants, contractors or subcontractors of the Town of Wallingford or its offices on or between the same dates,


c. but excluding:

- records of the Department of Public Utilities concerning bills,

- tax and other financial information held by the Comptroller,

- property and voting records,

- and tapes and minutes of meetings at which the complainant spoke.


Docket #FIC 87-292 Page Two


3. By letter dated September 9, 1987, the respondent Mayor denied this request.


4. By letter dated September 19, 1987, the complainant reiterated his request.


5. By letter dated October 5, 1987, and filed with the Commission on October 7, 1987, the complainant appealed to the Commission from the denial of his request.


6. The respondents claim that they have no records that meet the full description in paragraph 2, above.


7. It is found that the complainant's request also stated:


"You will note that my request is limited by date to make it easier to locate the information, but it also includes copies of all records that may have been created earlier but from which copies were made and therefore became records of the Town of Wallingford on or between the dates listed."


8. The respondents claim they did not understand the complainant's meaning in the statement in paragraph 7, above.


9. It is found that by the statement in paragraph 7, above, the complainant meant to request any records of him or his address that the town had from before the dates specified in paragraph 2a, above, but had had cause to copy and file anew within those specified dates.


10. It is found that the respondents' confusion as to the meaning in the statement in paragraph 7, above, was reasonable.


11. It is found that the respondent mayor checked with various town department heads and reasonably believed the respondents did not have any records meeting the full description in paragraph 2, above.


12. It is found that locating any records that refer to the complainant by name or address and fully meet the description in paragraph 2, above, would require the various Town of Wallingford offices to undertake research not required under the Freedom of Information Act.


13. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent mayor did not violate the Freedom of Information Act when he denied the complainant's request.


Docket #87-292 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, without prejudice.


2. The Commission reminds the respondents, however, that 1-19(a), G.S., grants the complainant the right to inspect the records of the Town of Wallingford and conduct his own research.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of March 9, 1988.



Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission