FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Alton S. Hastings,
against Docket #FIC 92-57
Bristol-Burlington Health District,
Respondent September 23, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 11, 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 February 10, 1992 and filed February 11, 1992, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that on February 6, 1992, he requested from the respondent a copy of the respondent's proposed 1992-1993 budget. The complainant also alleged that on that date, he sought to review a copy of a letter from the Department of Health Services to the respondent and that the respondent denied access to the requested letter.
3. The complainant maintains that he initially requested the proposed budget on February 4, 1992, the date on which the respondent indicated it would be ready for public inspection, but that upon his request the complainant was informed that the proposed budget would not be ready until February 6, 1992.
4. It is found that the respondent held a public hearing on February 11, 1992 to receive public input concerning its proposed 1992-1993 budget and that the complainant was
Docket #FIC 92-57 Page 2
seeking access to both the proposed budget and the requested letter to help him prepare for that hearing.
5. It is also found that the respondent adopted the proposed budget at its meeting that was held immediately subsequent to the February 11, 1992 public hearing.
6. It is also found that the requested letter is a letter directed to the respondent that was prepared by the Director of the Department of Health Services, dated January 27, 1992.
7. It is also found that the complainant received a copy of the proposed 1992-1993 budget at the time of his February 6, 1992 request, in a timely manner, but was not provided with access to or a copy of the requested letter on that date.
8. It is also found that the complainant did not gain access to the requested letter until he received a copy of it on or about February 12, 1992, from a friend who requested the letter from the respondent on or about the same date.
9. The respondent maintains that it did not allow the complainant access to the requested letter at the time of his February 6, 1992 request because the subject letter had just been received at the respondent's offices on February 3, 1992 and because it had not been reviewed by members of the respondent. The respondent states that it made the letter available to the public after it had reviewed it at its February 11, 1992 meeting.
10. The respondent also maintains that the requested letter is exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(4), G.S., as a record pertaining to strategy or negotiation with respect to pending claims or pending litigation.
11. It is concluded that the requested letter is a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
12. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
"Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or
state statute, all records maintained or kept on
file by any public agency...shall be public records
and every person shall have the right to inspect such
records promptly during regular office or business
Docket #FIC 92-57 Page 3
13. It is found that the complainant did not have an opportunity to review the requested letter prior to the public hearing on the proposed budget, as he desired, since it was not made available until after February 11, 1992.
14. It is also found that the respondent did not provide prompt access to inspect the requested letter within the meaning of 1-19(a), G.S.
15. In support of its contention in paragraph 10 above, the respondent maintains that the requested letter from the Department of Health Services carried with it the potential for litigation from the State of Connecticut.
16. It is found that the requested letter addresses concerns of the Department of Health Services regarding the respondent's lack of compliance with state statutes and Per Capita funding regulations, and that the respondent's 1992 budget was among the areas of concern.
17. It is further found that the requested letter does not threaten litigation nor does it indicate any intent to assert a legal right or a demand for legal relief.
18. It is further found that the respondent failed to prove that the requested letter is exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(4), G.S.
19. It is concluded therefore that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide prompt access to the requested letter.
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 strictly comply with the requirements of 1-19(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 23, 1992.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-57 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:
Alton S. Hastings
33 Case Road
Burlington, CT 06013
Bristol-Burlington Health District
c/o Attorney Saranne P. Murray
Shipman & Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission