FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Clifford Devine,

 

Complainant,

 

against Docket #FIC 88-491

 

Chairperson, Salem Town Office Building Committee,

 

Respondent May 10, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 14, 1989, 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 November 21, 1988, the complainant requested the respondent provide him with copies of:

 

a. all correspondence to or from the respondent's committee during its November 16, 1988, meeting,

 

b. and a letter and check given to an architect during that same meeting.

 

3. By letter dated November 21, 1988, the respondent denied the complainant's request.

 

4. By letter dated and filed with the Commission on December 21, 1988, the complainant appealed the denial of his request to the Commission.

 

5. By letter dated January 3, 1988, the complainant amended his complaint and asked the Commission to impose a civil penalty upon the respondent.

 

6. The respondent claims that all records she generates as her committee's chairperson she files with the town clerk. The respondent further claims that she delayed filing certain correspondence from the November 16, 1988, meeting because the

 

Docket #FIC 88-491 Page Two

 

legality of the meeting had been questioned due to the lack of a quorum.

 

7. It is found that no check was given to an architect during the respondent's committee's November 16, 1988, meeting.

 

8. It is found that during that meeting the respondent gave an architect from a firm named Centerbrook an envelope and a letter acknowledging a bill.

 

9. It is found that the letter of acknowledgement had been duly approved at the respondent committee's previous meeting and that the respondent was authorized to forward it to the architect at any time.

 

10. It is found that the respondent retained her copy of the bill acknowledgement, intending to file it with the town clerk at the same time she filed the other correspondence relevant to that meeting.

 

11. It is found that the other correspondence consisted of:

 

a. a letter to the respondent's committee from Centerbrook dated November 10, 1988,

 

b. a letter to the respondent's committee from Centerbrook dated November 16, 1988,

 

c. and a letter to Centerbrook from the respondent dated November 2, 1988.

 

12. It is found that the respondent delayed filing the other correspondence because, almost two hours into the meeting, she had been questioned vociferously by the complainant about the meeting's legality and shortly thereafter terminated the meeting. Thus, the respondent had not yet shown the members of her committee that correspondence.

 

13. It is found that the correspondence described in paragraph 11, above, was discussed at the respondent's committee's November 21, 1988 meeting.

 

14. It is found that it was not until December 6, 1988, that the respondent filed the records described in paragraphs 8 and 11, above, with the town clerk, attached to the minutes from her committee's November 30, 1988, meeting.

 

15. It is found that the records described in paragraphs 8

 

Docket #FIC 88-491 Page Three

 

and 11, above, were all public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S., both at the time the respondent first received them and at the time of the complainant's request.

 

16. It is found that these records were in the respondent's custody at the time of the complainant's request and not yet filed at the town clerk's office.

 

17. It is further found that the fact the committee's members had not yet seen the records did not exempt the records from disclosure.

 

18. Thus it is concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by denying the complainant's request for the records described in paragraphs 8 and 11, above.

 

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 and 1-19(a), G.S., granting prompt access upon request to public records within her custody.

 

2. The respondent forthwith shall amend the minutes of her committee's November 21, 1988, meeting by attaching the records described in paragraph 11, above.

 

3. The respondent shall attach a photocopy of the decision in this matter to the minutes of her committee's next meeting after final approval of the decision by the full Commission.

 

4. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty upon the respondent.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 10, 1989.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission