FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
against Docket #FIC 94-124
Director of Planning, New Britain City Plan Commission,
Respondent April 18, 1995
The above-captioned matter was scheduled for hearing on October 21, 1994. At the respondent's request the matter was postponed and heard as a contested case on November 9, 1994, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, 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. It is found that on April 18, 1994 the complainant went to the respondent's office and requested access to a file on a subdivision he is developing, known as Bassett Acres II.
3. It is found that prior to releasing the file to the complainant for inspection, the respondent removed several documents from the file.
4. It is found that when the complainant asked the respondent what documents she had removed from the file she identified the documents only as her "personal notes".
5. By letter filed on April 21, 1994, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent's actions on April 18th constituted a violation of the Freedom of Information Act.
6. It is found that the documents at issue in this case were destroyed by the respondent subsequent to April 18, 1994.
7. It is found that the respondent lacked the authority under the records retention and destruciton statutes, to destroy the documents in question, especially since the complainant had clearly expressed his concern and objection to her decision to remove the documents from the file.
Docket #FIC 94-124 Page 2
8. The respondent claims that the documents at issue were nothing more than a single copy of a typewritten version of a May 29, 1993 letter ("letter"), containing changes and corrections, and multiple copies of an earlier version of that same letter.
9. The respondent claims further that the complainant had already received a copy of the final version of the letter, and a copy of the letter was also in the file that was given to the complainant for his review.
10. The Commission draws the inference that the documents in question were not early versions of a letter subsequently sent to the complainant and already contained in the file shown to him. If the facts were as the respondent claims, there would have been no reason not to provide the complainant with everything in the file at the time of his inquiry.
11. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with access to all nonexempt public records.
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 cause a copy of this decision to be conspicuously posted in the respondent's office(s) for a period of not less than one year from the date of mailing of the notice of final decision in this case.
2. The Commission apologizes to the complainant for any inconvenience or hardship caused by the decision to postpone the hearing because of the respondent's unavailability on October 21, 1994. The Commission assures the complainant that the decision to grant a postponement was done solely to facilitate the fact-finding process in this case, and only after counsel to the Commission on this matter was unsuccessful in repeated attempts to contact him.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of April 18, 1995.
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 94-124 Page 3
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:
112 Fairway Drive
New Britain, CT 06053
DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, CITY OF NEW BRITAIN CITY PLAN COMMISSION
c/o Anita D. Cobb, Esq.
Office of Corporation Counsel
27 West Main Street
New Britain, CT 06050
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission