FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
against Docket #FIC 93-217
Old Saybrook Harbor Master, State of Connecticut Department of Transportation,
Respondent July 13, 1994
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 10, 1994, 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 of complaint filed August 16, 1993, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that his repeated requests for information had been denied and delayed.
3. At the hearing, the complainant limited his complaint to those events occuring on or after August 3, 1993.
4. It is found that the complainant by letter dated August 3, 1993, requested copies of the following documents:
a. the first page of the current waiting list for the North Cove dredged anchorage;
b. those pages of the waiting list that show names added since a certain applicant;
c. the current mooring list for the North Cove dredged anchorage; and
d. a copy of the Connecticut registration information provided for this and the prior season for a certain vessel.
5. It is found that the respondent by letter dated August 5, 1993 replied to the respondent, indicating that copies of most of the requested documents were being prepared, but that
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the requested prior (1992) registration information for the vessel had been discarded.
6. It is concluded that the documents described in paragraph 4, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
7. It is found that the respondent promptly made copies of some of the requested records available for the complainant to pick up, but that the complainant objected to making a check for the cost of the copies out to the respondent's secretary (and wife), and refused to pay for and collect the copies because he had sent a self-addressed stamped envelope.
8. It is also found that the complainant objected to what he believed were charges for the time the respondent's secretary took making copies.
9. It is found, however, that the Commission was presented with no evidence that the charges were for anything but 50 cents per page for copies, or that the ultimate payee was anyone other than the respondent.
10. It is also found that, because of the complainant's unwillingness to accept the documents prepared for him by the respondent at the time they were offered, it is not possible for the Commission to determine under the facts of this case whether any records were promptly provided within the meaning of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.
11. It is also found that the complainant ultimately paid $30.00 for copies of the following documents:
a. Eighteen pages from the 1993 mooring list;
b. Four pages from the 1993 waiting list;
c. Two pages of 1993 registration information; and
d. Six pages of copies of correspondence between the complainant and the respondent.
12. The complainant maintains that the documents described in paragraph 11.d, above, are not responsive to his request, and that he has still not received:
a. the first page of the current waiting list;
b. the prior year's vessel registration information;
c. the most current mooring list; and
d. the most current waiting list.
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13. It is found that the six pages of correspondence described in paragraph 11.d, above, are not responsive to complainant's request.
14. At the hearing, the respondent agreed to return $3.00 if the complainant returned the six unwanted pages of correspondence.
15. The respondent also maintains that he gave the complainant the first page of the waiting list.
16. It is found, however, that the first page of the waiting list was omitted from the documents provided to the complainant.
17. Although the Commission believes that the omission of the waiting list was inadvertent, it is concluded that the respondent technically violated 1-15(a) by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of that record.
18. The complainant also maintains that the information on the mooring and waiting lists he received was not the most current information, because new applications had been received and accepted or rejected after the date of the mooring list he received, and because names are added to the waiting list at the rate of about three per month.
19. It is found that at the time the respondent received the complainant's request for the mooring list, the respondent was in the process of accepting new mooring applications and related information, and sending letters to individuals who had missed the deadline.
20. It is also found that the mooring list is reissued annually, and that each year's list is finalized in March or April, and typed in May.
21. It is found that the respondent's "current" mooring list each year does not necessarily reflect whether an individual will be added to or dropped from the following year's list.
22. It is found, however, that the 1993 mooring list provided to the complainant was the most current list in existence at the time the complainant made his request.
23. With respect to the waiting list, it is found that the last name on the waiting list received by the complainant was added on May 28, 1993, about two months before the complainant's request, and that an average of about two names per month are added to the list.
24. The respondent maintains that the town waterfront commission and not he, the harbor master, maintains the waiting
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list, and that he provided the complainant with the most current list that he himself had, referring the complainant to the waterfront commission for more current information.
25. The complainant in turn maintains that either the maintenance of the waiting list is in fact the harbor master's responsibility, or that a request to the harbor master should be sufficient even if the list is maintained by the waterfront commission.
26. It is found that the town waterfront commission and the governor-appointed harbor master are separate entities with overlapping responsibilities.
27. It is also found that the harbor master is an ex officio member of the waterfront commission.
28. It is also found that the harbor master and waterfront commission cooperate in the assignment of mooring assignments.
29. It is therefore found that the harbor master necessarily has administrative responsibilities with respect to the waiting list from which he makes mooring assignments.
30. It is concluded that the harbor master and waterfront commission had joint control or custody of the most current waiting list, within the meaning of 1-21i(a), G.S., and that the request for a copy of the waiting list was therefore appropriately made to either the harbor master or the waterfront commission.
31. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainaint a copy of the most current waiting list.
32. With respect to the previous year's registration information, it is found that the respondent discarded the mooring applications for the previous year, as was his practice, which applications would have contained the registration information for the previous year.
33. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide registration information for the previous year.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent shall forthwith provide to the complainant a copy of the waiting list that is current to the date of the mailing of this final decision.
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2. The respondent shall forthwith provide to the complainant a copy of the first page of the mooring list.
3. After receiving copies of the six pages of unrequested correspondence described in paragraph 11.d of the findings, above, from the complainant, the respondent shall forthwith remit $3.00 to the complainant.
4. With respect to the allegations described in paragraphs 12.c and 12.d of the findings, above, the complaint is dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 13, 1994.
Debra L. Rembowski
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:
3 Gregory Place
Old Saybrook, CT 06475
OLD SAYBROOK HARBOR MASTER
Department of Transportation
88 Sheffield Street
Old Saybrook, CT 06475
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission