FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Howard E. Lappen

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88-442

 

Bolton Board of Selectmen

 

Respondent March 8, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 9, 1988, at which time the complainant 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 and conclusions of law are reached:

 

1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated September 28, 1988, the complainant requested from the respondent minutes of the respondent's meeting at which regulations were adopted requiring the erection of an asphalt apron to adjoin a driveway to a road.

 

3. On October 31, 1988, the complainant orally renewed his request in a conversation with the respondent's second selectman.

 

4. By letter of complaint dated November 1, 1988, and filed with the Commission on November 3, 1988, the complainant claimed that the respondent denied him access to public records in violation of the Freedom of Information Act by not responding to his request within four business days.

 

5. The complainant further claimed that the respondent failed to respond promptly to his request for records in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Docket #FIC 88-442 Page Two

 

6. The respondent claims that:

 

a. it tried to respond promptly to the complainant's request, but was hampered by staff shortages.

 

b. it mailed the requested records to the complainant promptly.

 

7. It is found that during the period covered by the complaint, the respondent had no administrative assistant to process correspondence.

 

8. Nevertheless, it is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21i(a), G.S., by failing to respond to the complainant's request within four business days.

 

9. It is found that on October 10, 1988 the respondent mailed the complainant a copy of the regulations and six pages of relevant minutes, in response to the complainant's September 28, 1988 request.

 

10. It is found that the complainant did not receive this mailing.

 

11. It is found that on October 31, 1988, the complainant informed the respondent's second selectman that he had not received the records requested, and made a new request for the records.

 

13. In response to the complainant's October 31, 1988 oral request to its second selectman, the respondent sent the complainant regulations for building permits and six pages of munites via certified mail on November 28, 1988.

 

14. It is found that the complainant received the regulations and munites via certified mail shortly after November 28, 1988.

 

15. It is found that a one month time-lag between the complainant's October 31, 1988 oral request and the respondent's response of November 28, 1988 failed to satisfy the 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., requirements of prompt response to a request for public records.

 

Docket #FIC 88-442 Page Three

 

16. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to respond promptly to the separate request of October 31, 1988 for copies of public records.

 

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

 

1. Henceforth, the respondent shall provide copies of public records promptly upon request, in compliance with 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

2. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the time period specified by 1-21i(a), G.S., for responding to requests for access to public records.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 8, 1989.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission