FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 91-337
Richard S. Borden, Jr., Glastonbury Town Manager,
Respondent July 22, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 10, 1992, 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 October 7, 1991, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with a copy of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicle registration for all vehicles owned by the Town of Glastonbury (hereinafter "Town"), and operated by Town employees. The complainant also requested copies of all invoices for gasoline and maintenance of Town vehicles for the month of February, 1991.
3. By letter of complaint dated October 21, 1991, and filed on October 22, 1991, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging noncompliance with his request. The complainant is requesting the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent.
4. By letter dated October 23, 1991, the respondent notified Mr. Zajicek that his most recent four requests, including the registration request, had been received and would be complied with in "as timely a manner as possible."
5. By letter dated October 24, 1991, the respondent argues that the appeal to the Commission was filed prematurely and should be dismissed because Mr. Zajicek had been notified that compliance would be forthcoming as soon as practicable.
Docket #FIC 91-337 Page 2
6. In his October 24th letter the respondent also argued that the complainant's registration request was only one of thirteen Freedom of Information Act (hereinafter "FOIA"), requests that Mr. Zajicek had made to the Town and the Town's Department of Education between September 4 and October 7, 1991.
8. In his October 24th letter the respondent further stated that with respect to each of the thirteen FOIA requests, "[a] genuine effort is being made to treat those requests properly and appropriately, according to the origin, nature, content, scope and duration of each request...."
9. By letter dated March 26, 1992, the complainant withdrew his complaint as to the request for the invoice information.
10. By letter dated April 7, 1992 the respondent provided the complainant with a copy of the registration for all municipally owned vehicles; a single document was provided because the registration for each Town vehicle is the same.
11. At the hearing the respondent again requested that the complaint be dismissed because the requested information had been provided.
12. The respondent also requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the complainant in accordance with the provisions of 52-568(b), G.S.
13. Section 52-568(b), G.S., states in pertinent part:
A public agency... may bring an action to superior court against any person who, within a twenty-four month period ... commenced and prosecuted at least two appeals before the freedom of information commission under 1-21i and who was found by the commission in at least two such cases to have brought the appeals (1) frivolously, (2) without reasonable grounds and (3) principally for the purpose of harrassing the agency against which the appeal is taken....[Emphasis added.]
14. At the hearing the respondent argued that the complainant is an "agent" or "alter-ego" of Town residen C. J. Mozzochi.
15. Specifically, the respondent claimed that Mr. Mozzochi is directly responsible for the nature and magnitude of the records requested, as well as the complainant's appeals to the Commission.
Docket #FIC 91-337 Page 3
16. It is found that Mr. Mozzochi did appear at the hearing as the complainant's authorized representative.
17. It is found that in accordance with paragraph 3 of the Commission's "Notice of Hearing and Order To Show Cause," the complainant was entitled to appear at the hearing "in person or by counsel or other authorized representative."
18. Section 1-21j-29 of the Commission's Regulations states in relevant part that:
Each person authorized to participate in a contested case as a party or as an intervenor shall file a written notice of appearance.... Such appearance may be filed on behalf of parties and intervenors by an attorney, an agent, or other duly authorized representative....[Emphasis added.]
19. The Commission notes that both the complainant and respondent properly exercised their right to attend the hearing and to have representation.
20. It is found that the records requested are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
21. It is found that the respondent provided the complainant with a copy of the lone record that was responsive to his request six months after the request was made.
22. The respondent's motion to dismiss is hereby denied.
23. It is found that both the respondent and other Town officials have received numerous FOIA requests from the complainant.
24. It is found that the other FOIA requests made by the complainant tend to be expansive in scope.
25. However, in spite of a general pattern of compliance demonstrated by the respondent under the facts of this case, it is found that the respondent failed to promptly provide the complainant with a copy of the information requested.
26. It is found that the delay in compliance in this case was more likely the result of an oversight rather than an attempt by the respondent to avoid or delay compliance.
27. It is also found that under the facts of this case, the respondent's failure to comply with the request in a more timely manner was neither deliberate nor wilful.
Docket #FIC 91-337 Page 4
28. It is concluded, however, that the failure of the respondent to provide a copy of a single document sooner than six months after the initial request is a violation of 1-15, G.S.
29. Despite the complainant's mounting requests to the Town, it is found that the respondent failed to prove that the complainant's registration request was frivolous and for the purpose of harassing the respondent.
30. It is concluded that the respondent failed to prove that this appeal to the Commission is "frivolous, without reasonable grounds and principally for the purpose of harrassing the agency against which the appeal is taken."
31. The Commission declines to impose civil penalties as requested by the complainant.
32. The Commission declines to seek sanctions against the complainant as requested by the respondent.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondent shall comply with the disclosure provisions of 1-15, G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 22, 1992.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 91-337 Page 5
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:
349 Hebron Avenue
Glastonbury, CT 06033
DR. C. J. MOZZOCHI
South Glastonbury, CT 06073
WILLIAM S. ROGERS, ESQ.
Tyler, Cooper & Alcorn
CityPlace - 35th Floor
Hartford, CT 06103-3488
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission