FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Richard A. Schleicher,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 90-481

 

Town Clerk of Lebanon,

 

Respondent October 23, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 25, 1991, 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 and hand-delivered to the respondent on November 17, 1990, the complainant requested copies of three inland wetland documents pertaining to Kenneth J. Perry's property located on Clarke Road (hereinafter "Perry records").

 

3. By letter of response dated November 19, 1990, the respondent informed the complainant that he has access to the files during specified business hours, and her office would copy any record he located or identified.

 

4. By letter of complaint dated December 7, 1990, and filed with this Commission on December 11, 1990, the complainant alleged that on November 15 and 17, 1990 he was denied access to the Perry records.

 

5. It is found that the complainant is a member of the Lebanon Inland Wetland Commission ("LIWC").

 

6. It is found that LIWC files are stored in a vault located in the respondent's office.

 

7. It is found that the LIWC members have always had complete access to LIWC files through a sign in sheet procedure.

 

Docket #FIC 90-481 Page 2

 

8. It is found that at the time of the complainant's request there were allegations that LIWC files were "missing".

 

9. It is found that the complainant did not wish to sign his name on the sign in sheet that would have permitted him access to the LIWC files, including the Perry records.

 

10. It is found that the requested documents are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

11. It is found that the respondent does not act as custodian of LIWC files.

 

12. It is found that with the single exception of LIWC minutes, which the respondent dispenses and certifies, LIWC records are not directly filed with the respondent.

 

13. It is found that the respondent is unfamiliar with the LIWC record keeping and filing systems.

 

14. It is found that while the respondent refused to search the LIWC files for the complainant, she did not refuse to give him access to the LIWC files, or to make copies of the Perry records once the complainant located them in the LIWC files.

 

15. It is found that nothing in Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act requires a public agency to do research in order to comply with a document request.

 

16. It is found that on November 20, 1990, a special meeting of the LWIC was held to discuss and act upon a request by the respondent for a statement and clarification of the rules and regulations regarding LIWC files in the vault in her office.

 

17. It is found that at that special meeting the LIWC voted to: (a) continue to give LIWC members full access to LIWC files using a sign in sheet procedure, and (b) to allow the respondent to promptly refer LIWC file requests from members of the public to the designated LIWC member who will be responsible for promptly complying with the request.

 

Docket #FIC 90-481 Page 3

 

18. It is concluded that the respondent did not promptly respond to the complainant's document request.

 

19. However, it is found that the fact that the complainant refused to follow the procedure established for LIWC members because he did not want to sign in, resulted in the respondent seeking immediate clarification of the rules and regulations regarding LIWC files.

 

20. It is therefore concluded that under the circumstances of this case, the delay in compliance with the record request is directly attributable to the complainant's actions.

 

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

 

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 23, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 90-481 Page 4

 

 

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:

Richard A. Schleicher

RFD #2, 145 Kick Hill Road

Lebanon, CT 06249

 

Town Clerk of Lebanon

c/o Juri E. Taalman, Esq.

Taalman & Phillips

Suite 215, 12 Case Street

Norwichtown, CT 06360

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission