FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Salvatore J. Iritano,
against Docket #FIC 94-341
Thomas Wontorek, Farmington Town Manager,
Respondent August 9, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 11, 1995, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Immediately after the hearing on this matter, the respondent submitted for in camera inspection a copy of the documents described in paragraph 10 of the findings, below.
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 September 29, 1994, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent only partially complied with his August 31, 1994 request for certain records.
3. It is found that the complainant met with the respondent on August 31, 1994 and asked to review the so-called "Greenbriar" file.
4. It is found that the Greenbriar file relates to a certain privately owned office building in the town of Farmington that the town had negotiated to purchase, which negotiations were ongoing on August 31, 1994.
5. It is found that the respondent privately reviewed the file before disclosing any documents to the complainant.
6. It is found that the respondent then permitted the complainant to review most of the file, but withheld certain documents that he believed to be exempt from disclosure.
7. On September 8, 1994, after having consulted with the town attorney, the respondent called and left a message for the
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complainant that all documents in the Greenbriar file that he had requested were available to him, except for one that the respondent believed was exempt from disclosure.
8. It is found that complainant reviewed the additional documents that the respondent was willling to release approximately one week after the respondent called him.
9. It is found that those additional released documents consist of certain minutes, and certain notes made by the town manager concerning a meeting.
10. It is found that the only document withheld from the complainant consists of a letter dated October 27, 1993 from the town attorney to the town of Farmington finance director, with an attached memorandum from the town attorney dated October 26, 1993, regarding the acquisition of the Greenbriar property.
11. It is found that all of the disputed documents are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
12. The complainant maintains that (a) other documents regarding meetings between the respondent and Farmington town council members contained in the file were impermissibly withheld from him; (b) that the respondent's notes that were provided to him are illegible; and (c) that the document submitted for in camera inspection is not exempt from disclosure.
13. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 12(a), above, although the complainant believes that other documents were removed from the file and also believes that there should be additional notes of meetings, the Commission was presented with no persuasive evidence from which it can conclude that documents other than the letter and memorandum described in paragraph 10, above, were withheld from the complainant.
14. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 12(b), above, it is found that the respondent is willing to decipher his notes for the complainant, but is not willing to provide a typed copy.
15. It is found that the respondent provided the actual notes that were in his possession.
16. It is concluded that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act requires the respondent to provide a typed copy of the notes at issue in this case.
17. It is therefore concluded that, aside from the issue of the letter and memorandum described in paragraph 10, above, the respondent promptly provided access to the requested records.
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18. With respect to the letter and memorandum submitted for in camera inspection, the respondent maintains that those records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(7) and 1-19(b)(10), G.S.
19. Section 1-19(b)(7), G.S., provides that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act requires the disclosure of the contents of real estate appraisals made for or by an agency relative to the acquisition of property until such time as all of the property has been acquired or all proceedings or transactions have been terminated or abandoned.
20. Section 1-19(b)(10), G.S., provides that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act requires the disclosure of communications privileged by the attorney-client relationship.
21. It is found that the October 26, 1993 memorandum is a memorandum to file, drafted by the town attorney, that recites the contents of an appraisal of the Greenbriar property, relative to the town's proposed acquisition of that property.
22. It is found that, at the time of the complainant's request, the property had not been acquired, and the proposed transaction had not been abandoned or terminated.
23. It is therefore concluded that the October 26, 1993 memorandum is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(7), G.S.
24. It is found that the October 27, 1993 letter is a cover letter concerning the October 26, 1993 memorandum.
25. It is found that the October 27, 1993 letter does not itself recite the contents of any real estate appraisals.
26. It is also found that the October 27, 1993 letter itself does not contain any confidential facts or legal advice.
27. It is concluded that the October 27, 1993 letter is not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(7) or 1-19(b)(10), G.S.
28. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., by withholding the October 27, 1993 letter from the complainant.
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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 deliver to the complainant a copy of the October 27, 1993 letter described in the findings, above.
2. 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 August 9, 1995.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting 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:
Mr. Salvatore J. Iritano
91 Birdseye Road
Farmington, CT 06032
Thomas Wontorek, Farmington Town Manager
c/o Joseph L. Hammer, Esq.
Day, Berry & Howard
Hartford, CT -6103-3499
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission