In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Ethan Book, Jr. and New England Energy Consultants,




against Docket #FIC 88-38


Town of Fairfield Ethics Commission,


Respondent May 25, 1988


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 15, 1988, 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. The respondent held a meeting on November 30, 1987 concerning a complaint brought by the complainant against Fairfield's first selectman.


3. On or about November 20, 1987, Fairfield's first selectman had submitted a request to the respondent that the meeting concerning the complaint against her be tape recorded. Pursuant to such request, counsel for the respondent operated a tape recorder during the November 30, 1987 proceedings.


4. By letter dated January 2, 1988 the complainant made a request of the chairman of the respondent for a copy of the tape recording of the November 30, 1987 meeting.


5. The complainant received no response to his January 2, 1988 request.


6. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on February 2, 1988 the complainant alleged that he had been denied access to the requested tape recording.


7. It is found that subsequent to the filing of his complaint the complainant received notice that the tape recording of the November 30, 1987 meeting was available at the office of Fairfield's town clerk.


Docket #FIC 88-38 Page Two


8. On or about February 24, 1988 the complainant listened to the tape at the town clerk's office and became aware that one side of the tape was recorded but that the other side was, inexplicably, blank.


9. It is found that through counsel's error in operating the recording equipment, the portion of the November 30, 1987 meeting which followed completion of the first full side of the cassette tape was not recorded.


10. It is found that the respondent's failure to promptly provide access to the tape recording of the November 30, 1987 meeting violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.


11. It is found, however, that as of the date of hearing the complainant had been provided access to the entire tape recording, incomplete though it was, of the November 30, 1987 meeting.


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


1. The respondent henceforth shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S. concerning prompt access to public records.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of May 25, 1988.



Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission