FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Kathy A. Velky,
against Docket #FIC 1996-110
Katherine H. Campbell, First Selectman,
Town of Woodbury,
Respondent(s) November 20, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 31, 1996, at which time the complainant and 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 dated March 28, 1996, and filed with this Commission on March 29, 1996, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated §§1-15 (a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide her with prompt access to certain records, which documents should have included documents authored by her (“appeal”). The complainant requested that the Commission impose the maximum civil penalty upon the individual respondent.
3. The respondent filed a motion to dismiss the appeal on July 15, 1996, claiming that there had been full compliance with the complainant’s records request, and that the Commission lacked jurisdiction to address the adequacy or content of records maintained by the respondent. The respondent requested that the Commission to impose a civil penalty against the complainant for filing a frivolous appeal.
4. It is found that by letter to the respondent dated February 23, 1996 (“February request”), the complainant requested copies of records pertaining to complaints and/ or investigations of such complaints, against ten town officials and employees whose names were listed in the letter (“complaint records”).
5. It is found that the complaint records sought by the complainant are public records within the meaning of §§1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
6. It is found that by letter to the complainant dated February 28, 1996 (“February reply”), the respondent provided the complainant with the requested documentation that existed in the town’s files for two of the named individuals. The respondent informed the complainant that the town’s files did not contain any complaint records for the remaining eight individuals on her list, and she requested that the sum of eight dollars be remitted as payment for copying fees for the complaint records provided.
7. It is found that on or about March 4, 1996, the complainant went to the respondent’s office and made an oral request to the respondent to view certain files that she believed should contain complaint records filed by her, and other such correspondence.
8. It is found that the complainant was told that she needed to put her records request in writing, and that she needed to make an appointment to return to the office since at that moment the respondent’s secretary was on her way out of the office to lunch.
9. It is found that by request dated and hand delivered to the respondent on March 4, 1996 (“March request”), the complainant asked to view the file containing letters and/or correspondence between herself and the respondent, and she asked for a copy of all of her letters to the respondent and/or the town’s board of selectmen (“correspondence”).
10. It is found that the correspondence sought by the complainant is a public record within the meaning of §§1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
11. It is found that by telephone call and letter to the complainant dated March 4, 1996, the respondent notified the complainant that: her March request for copies of correspondence had been complied with; the cost of compliance was $9.25; and that she should provide instruction as to whether she would pick up the copies or wanted them mailed to her.
12. Regarding the complainant’s March request to examine the respondent’s correspondence file, by letter dated March 5, 1996, the respondent advised her that she could do so at the respondent’s offices between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., provided she first “let them know when she wished to come into the [respondent’s] office”. Additionally, the respondent advised the complainant that any request for copies of documents should be made in writing.
13. It is found that the conditions imposed upon the complainant by the respondent, as described in paragraphs 8 and 12 of the findings, above, denied the complainant prompt access to public records.
14. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent violated the provisions of §1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly comply with the complainant’s March request for access to the correspondence documents.
15. It is found that on or about March 7, 1996 the complainant again visited the respondent’s office to inspect certain files which she believed should contain copies of complaint records authored by her, which documents were sought in her February request but had not been provided to her.
16. It is found that other than the copies of complaint records and correspondence already provided to the complainant, the respondent’s files do not contain any other such records.
17. It is found that the gravamen of the complainant’s appeal is that her complaint records are not among the complaint records or correspondence documents that have been disclosed to her by the respondent.
18. Although the Commission finds the allegations contained in paragraphs 2, 7, 15 and 17 of the findings, above, troubling, it is concluded that the Commission lacks jurisdiction to address the content or adequacy of the records maintained by the respondent. Therefore, the respondent’s motion to dismiss the appeal with respect to the complaint records is hereby granted.
19. It is concluded that under the facts of this case, the respondent did not violate the disclosure provisions of §§1-15(a) or 1-19(a), G.S., with respect to the complaint records authored by the complainant.
20. The Commission takes administrative notice of the records and final decisions in Docket #s FIC1995-76, Kathy A. Velky v. Woodbury Building Department and Woodbury Director of Public Works; FIC1995-139, Kathy A. Velky v. Woodbury Building Department and Director of Health, Pomperaug District Department of Health; and FIC 1995-202, Kathy A. Velky v. Woodbury Inland Wetlands Agency and Woodbury Town Planner.
21. The Commission in its discretion declines to impose a civil penalty in this case.
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 access provisions of §1-19(a), G.S.
2. That portion of the appeal concerning the complaint records is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of November 20, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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:
Kathy A. Velky
626 Washington Road
Woodbury, CT 06798
Katherine H. Campbell, First Selectman, Town of Woodbury
c/o Maureen Danehy Cox, Esq.
Carmody & Torrance
PO Box 1110
Waterbury, CT 06721-1110
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission