FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Lawrence J. Ebner,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 91-23

 

State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection,

 

Respondent November 13, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 14, 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 January 18, 1991 (hereinafter "January letter"), the complainant requested a copy of the letter from State Senator Matthews to Leslie Carothers, formerly the Commissioner of the Department of Enviromental Protection (hereinafter, "DEP"), that prompted the Commissioner's reply letter dated Septmber 26, 1990.

 

3. Specifically, the complainant requested a copy of the letter from Senator Matthews to the DEP Commissioner, drafted on or about August 27, 1990, regarding the Wethersfield Boat Launch.

 

4. In response to a prior request from the complainant for the same document, the respondent sent the complainant a copy of the DEP Commissioner's September 26, 1990 reply letter to Senator Matthews by facsimile transmission ("FAX"), on October 22, 1990.

 

5. By letter of complaint dated January 28, 1991, and filed with this Commission on January 29, 1991, the complainant alleged that the respondent failed to provide the document requested in his January letter.

 

Docket #FIC 91-23 Page 2

 

6. It is found that the requested information is a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

7. The respondent maintains that despite a diligent search wherein considerable man-hours were spent reviewing chronological files containing correspondence from January 1990 through December 1990, the letter requested by the complainant could not be found.

 

8. It is found that the respondent retains copies of all correspondence authored by the DEP Commissioner in chronologically arranged files.

 

9. It is found that the usual practice of the respondent is to attach a copy of the original letter of inquiry to a copy of the DEP Commissioner's reply letter.

 

10. It is found that the respondent was unable to locate the document requested by the complainant in any of the files that it maintains for correspondence generated by the DEP Commissioner.

 

11. At the hearing on this matter the respondent's representative testified that she would be willing to contact Senator Matthews' office in an effort to obtain a copy of the letter from him for the complainant, and presumably for the respondent's files as well.

 

12. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a) G.S., by failing to respond to the complainant's document request with formal notification that after a diligent search, the document was not found in the DEP Commissioner's files.

 

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

 

Docket #FIC 91-23 Page 3

 

1. Henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the disclosure provisions of 1-19(a), G.S.

 

2. In the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act and good government, the respondent shall forthwith provide the complainant with a either a copy of the requested record in accordance with paragraph 11 of the findings, above, or a sworn affidavit that the document cannot be located.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 13, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 91-23 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:

Lawrence J. Ebner

152 Ox Yoke Drive

Wethersfield, CT 07109

 

State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

c/o Ms. Victoria Brown

165 Capitol Avenue, Room 115

Hartford, CT 06106

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission