FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

William J. Kulp,  

Complainant

 

against

Docket #FIC 1996-174

Sergeant, State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection; State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection; and Candlewood Lake Authority;  

Respondent

February 26, 1997

The above-captioned matter was scheduled for hearing as a contested case on November 1, 1996, at which time the respondents appeared but the complainant failed to appear to prosecute his complaint. At the Commission’s regular meeting held on December 18, 1996, the Commission voted to reopen the case. The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 21, 1997, at which time the complainant and respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. It is found that by letter to the respondent Sergeant, State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection ("DEP sergeant"), the complainant requested the following:

a. a copy of the State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection’s ("DEP") standards for reappointment of lake patrolmen

b. a copy of his training records for the 1995 season as a lake patrolman;

c. a copy of the training records of those lake patrolmen employed during the 1995 season and reappointed for the 1996 season; and

d. to inspect and copy his personnel file.

3. It is found that by letter to the respondent Candlewood Lake Authority ("CLA"), dated February 19, 1996, and hand delivered to the CLA’s Sherman Base at approximately 4:30 p.m. on February 20, 1996, the complainant requested that he be permitted to inspect and copy his personnel file.

4. It is found that on February 20, 1996, the CLA’s executive director advised the complainant that the requested records were not at the Sherman Base and he did not know where to locate the records.

5. It is found that the complainant received a letter from the CLA’s executive director on or about February 26, 1996 which stated that the requested records had been located, and that the complainant should telephone him to arrange a date and time to inspect the subject file.

6. It is found that on or about February 28, 1996, the complainant telephoned the CLA’s executive director and arranged to view the subject file that afternoon.

7. It is found that when the complainant arrived at the CLA office on the afternoon of February 28, 1996, the CLA’s executive director handed him thirty-nine documents which were purportedly a photocopy of the entire contents of the complainant’s personnel file, whereupon the complainant asked to see the original file so that he could review it and make his own copies, if necessary.

8. It is found that the CLA’s executive director again advised the complainant that he had just been handed a copy of the entire contents of his personnel file maintained by the CLA, and declined to make the original subject file available to the complainant.

9. By letter of complaint dated March 5, 1996 and filed with the Commission on March 7, 1996, the complainant alleged that the respondents DEP and DEP sergeant failed to respond to, or comply with his records request dated February 8, 1996. By letter to the Commission dated July 18, 1996 and filed with the Commission on July 22, 1996, the complainant requested that his complaint be amended to also name the CLA as a respondent for failing to fully comply with his records request dated February 19, 1996.

10. Section 1-19(a), G.S., in relevant part provides that:

… all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law … shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15 [which also provides for a prompt copy] …

11. With respect to the complainant’s records request to the DEP sergeant, it is found that the complainant mailed the request to him at the CLA which is not where he is presently located, and as a result the DEP sergeant first received a copy of the February 8, 1996 records request when the CLA’s executive director sent him a copy by facsimile transmission on or about February 28, 1996.

12. It is found that by letter to the complainant dated March 10, 1996, the DEP sergeant advised the complainant that: he had only recently received his records request; the CLA not the DEP was his employer; the complainant should contact his immediate supervisors; and that he could not provide the complainant with the training records of other lake patrolmen.

13. It is found that the complainant was employed by the CLA for the 1995 season as a lake patrolman, and under the provisions of 7-151b, G.S., "… such lake patrolmen shall not be construed to be state employees …." Therefore, because the complainant was a seasonal employee of the CLA and not a DEP employee, neither the DEP sergeant nor the DEP maintain the subject file.

14. It is found that at the time of the complainant’s records request the DEP did not maintain any of the requested records, described more fully in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, and that the DEP sergeant’s March 10, 1996 letter was prompt given the facts of this case.

15. It is found that the requested records are public records of the CLA within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.

16. With respect to the complainant’s records request to the CLA dated February 19, 1996, it is found that executive director failed to provide the complainant with access to, and a copy of those records which he knew were at the Sherman Base because the complainant arrived with his records request at the end of the day, and because he knew that some records were in the possession of the complainant’s former CLA supervisor.

17. It is found that the thirty-nine documents provided to the complainant on February 28, 1996 by the CLA’s executive director comprise the complainant’s complete personnel file.

18. It is concluded that the respondent CLA violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with access to, and a copy of the original subject file.

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

1. Henceforth the respondent CLA shall strictly comply with the public records requirements clearly set forth in 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

2. Within five days of the date of mailing the notice of final decision in this case, the CLA shall provide the complainant with the opportunity to inspect the original records that comprise his personnel file.

3. The complaint is hereby dismissed against the respondents DEP sergeant and DEP.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 26, 1997.

__________________________
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:

William J. Kulp
20 Muller Street
New Fairfield, CT 06812

Sergeant, State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection; State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection
c/o Joseph Rubin, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
PO Box 120
Hartford, CT 06141-0120

Candlewood Lake Authority;
c/o Bruce Lockhart, Executive Director
Candlewood Lake Authority
PO Box 37
Sherman, CT 06784-0037

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1996-174/FD/eal/02281997