FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Kris Cieplak and Concerned Citizens for Clean Air,
against Docket #FIC 88-462
Mayor, City of Ansonia,
Respondent June 28, 1989
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 12, 1989, 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 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 November 2, 1988, the complainants requested the respondent provide them with copies of all records and correspondence pertaining to negotiations between the City of Ansonia and Newest Inc. of Reno, Nevada, and its president, including:
a. the newly revised contract signed by the city,
b. all persons involved in the early negotiations,
c. all attorneys' fees,
d. and how records were kept.
3. By letter dated November 10, 1988, the respondent denied the complainants' request, stating that the revised contract was on file with the city clerk and that no minutes were kept of meeting dates, persons present, etc.
4. By letter dated November 18, 1988, and filed with the Commission on November 22, 1988, the complainants appealed to the Commission.
5. It is found that the city's finance department and controller's office are the custodians of the city's attorneys' bills.
Docket #88-462 Page Two
6. It is found that the respondent failed to direct the complainants to the finance department or controller's office for the attorneys' bills.
7. It is also found that the finance committee of the city's board of alderman is responsible for approving attorneys' fees and that their meeting minutes are filed with the city clerk.
8. It is found that the respondent failed to direct the complainants to the city clerk for those minutes.
9. It is found that it is reasonable for members of the public seeking several types of public records from a city to request them from the city's chief executive officer and expect to be directed to the appropriate record locations.
10. Thus it is concluded that the respondent violated §§1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide access to the records of attorneys' fees.
11. It is found that the respondent provided a member of the complainant Citizens for Clean Air with a copy of a memorandum of understanding, also referred to as the preliminary contract, on or about July 25, 1988.
12. It is found that the respondent, therefore, reasonably assumed the complainants had that record.
13. It is found that the complainants did eventually receive a copy of the revised contract from the city clerk.
14. It is found, however, that the respondent's files do contain a copy of the contract and that the respondent had that record in his custody at the time of the complainants' request.
15. It is concluded that the respondent further violated §§1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainants promptly with a copy of the contract in his custody.
16. It is found that the complainants received the information described in paragraph 2b, above, in the course of a Commission hearing on Docket #FIC 88-184 on June 23, 1988.
Docket #FIC 88-462 Page Three
17. It is found that in August 1988 a public hearing was held at which representatives of Newest, Inc., answered questions from members of the public.
18. It is found that the respondent was present at that public hearing in his official capacity.
19. It is found that a public hearing of the respondent is a meeting within the meaning of §1-18a(b), G.S.
20. It is found that the respondent failed to prove he filed a notice and agenda of a special meeting with the city clerk 24 hours before the public hearing.
21. Thus it is concluded that the respondent violated §1-21(a), G.S., by failing to file a special meeting notice for the public hearing.
22. It is found that the respondent's files contain a transcript of the public hearing.
23. It is found that the requested records, as described paragraph 2 of the findings above, include the transcript.
24. Thus it is concluded that the respondent further violated §§1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by not providing the complainants promptly with copies of the transcript.
25. It is found that in the respondent's files are letters to his attorney relating to the negotiations in question.
26. It is found that the respondent failed to prove that these letters contain communications privileged by the attorney-client relationship.
27. Thus it is concluded that the respondent also violated §§1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by not providing the complainants promptly with copies of the correspondence in his files relevant to the negotiations in question.
The following order of 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 §§1-15, 1-19(a) and 1-21(a), G.S.
Docket #FIC 88-462 Page Four
2. The respondent forthwith shall provide the complainants with copies of the transcript of the August 1988 public hearing and the letters in his files to his attorney relating to the negotiations in question.
PURSUANT TO 4-180(c) C.G.S THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE F.O.I.C., OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
KRIS CEIPLAK AND CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR CLEAN AIR, c/o 27 State
Street, Ansonia, CT 06401
MAYOR, CITY OF ANSONIA, c/o James E. Sheehy, Esquire, Corporation
Counsel, 303 Wakelee Avenue, Ansonia, CT 06401
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 28, 1989.
Karen J. Haggett
Clerk of the Commission