FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Charisse E. Hutton,
against Docket #FIC 90-296
Lawrence DeTullio, Director, Derby Community Development Agency and Derby Community Development Agency,
Respondents June 26, 1991
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 26, 1990, 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 and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint dated August 8, 1990, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that her request for records was denied, and requesting the imposition of a civil penalty.
3. It is found that the complainant, by letter dated July 18, 1990, requested of the respondents copies of documents relating to a residential rehabilitation project administered by the respondents.
4. It is found that the respondents provided copies of the requested documents by letter dated November 15, 1990.
5. It is found that the requested documents consisted of the development agency's quarterly reports for the period ending June 30, 1990, a copy of a sales agreement, two letters, and several income verification forms; and that the respondents also provided brief answers to four questions, indicating either that the requested document did not exist or providing the information contained in the record.
6. It is concluded that the requested documents are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
7. The complainant maintains that the records were not provided promptly.
Docket #FIC 90-296 Page 2
8. It is found that the records were important to the complainant because she was conducting an ongoing investigation into the respondent development agency's operations, and needed the requested records to expeditiously respond to an audit of the agency by the Department of Housing.
9. The respondent maintains that the records were provided promptly.
10. It is found that the respondent director did not personally see the July 18 request until August 2, when the complainant called him, inquiring as to the status of her request.
11. It is found that the director was then on vacation from August 3 to August 13.
12. It is found that the director was busy from April through September with a high priority project associated with preparing for the audit of the development agency's operations, which audit occured from the latter part of August through most of September.
13. It is found that the time constraints imposed upon the director through August and September were significant, and that it was important to the public that the development agency prepare for the audit without losing time complying with the complainant's request.
14. It is also found, however, that the director needed only one hour and fifteen minutes to respond to the complainant's request, and that this response could have been prepared by his assistant, who was performing routine agency work during the period in question.
15. The respondents finally maintain that the promptness requirement contained in 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., was suspended throughout August, September, October and the first half of November by the filing of the complaint.
16. It is concluded, however, that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act provides that the promptness requirement contained in 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., is suspended by the filing of a complaint with the Commission.
17. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide copies of public records promptly upon request, considering: the long period of time taken to respond; the moderate volume of records requested; the small amount of personnel time necessary to comply with the request; the time constraints under which the
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agency needed to complete its other work associated with the audit; the importance of the records to the requester; and the importance to the public of the respondents' completing other agency business associated with the audit without the loss of the personnel time involved in complying with the request.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the promptness requirement set forth in 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
2. Although the Commission in its discretion declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondent director, it notes that it will not in the future consider it reasonable for the respondents to withhold public records solely because of the pendency of Commission proceedings.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 26, 1991.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
CHARISSE E. HUTTON, ESQ.
Valley Legal Assistance
30 Elizabeth Street
Derby, CT 06418
LAWRENCE DeTULLIO, DIRECTOR, DERBY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
AGENCY and DERBY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
c/o Francis A. Teodosio, Esq.
40 Franklin Street
Ansonia, CT 06401
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission