FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC1996-223
May 28, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Dennis P. Rizzo and the Walker Reception
and Special Management Unit Food Service Staff, Complainants
against
Robert J. DeVeau, Chief of Food Services, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; Maria Houser, Director of Human Resources, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 21, 1996 at which time the complainants and respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts, and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. On January 27, 1997, the respondents again appeared and presented testimony, and argument solely on the question of the imposition of a civil penalty against the individually named respondents.

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 chief of food services ("chief") dated May 23, 1996, the complainants requested "access to all criteria establishing food service positions for [eight specified correctional] facilities" ("records request").

3. It is found that by memorandum dated May 24, 1996, the respondent chief forwarded the complainants’ records request to the respondent director of human resources ("director").

4. It is found that by memorandum to the complainants dated May 28, 1996, the respondent chief advised them that the requested criteria for establishing food service positions for the specified facilities was not developed in, or issued from his office, and that they should contact the respondent director to whom he was forwarding their records request.

5. It is found that thereafter the complainant Rizzo telephoned the respondent director at her office on several occasions in an attempt to discuss the records request, however, he neither spoke to, nor received a return call from her.

6. By letter of complaint dated and filed with the Commission on June 10, 1996, the complainants appealed the respondents’ failure to comply with their request.

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

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

…all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency…shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours….

9. It is found that under cover letter dated October 7, 1996---approximately five months after the complainants’ initial request---the principal personnel officer in the respondent director’s office provided the complainants with copies of job specifications.

10. The complainants maintain that the records provided do not satisfy their request and that they believe that the information requested should be contained in P9 forms, or their equivalent.

11. The respondents maintain that they have provided the complainants with a copy of all documentation responsive to their request.

12. It is concluded that the respondent director violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainants with access to all responsive records when she received a copy of the request from the respondent chief.

13. The respondents maintain that the failure to provide the complainants with access to the responsive records more quickly was due only to an administrative oversight.

14. It is found however, that the violation described in paragraph 12 of the findings, above, was without reasonable grounds.

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

1. Within forty-five days of the date of mailing the notice of final decision in this case, the respondent director shall remit to this Commission a civil penalty in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00).

2. Within forty-five days of the date of mailing the notice of final decision in this matter, the respondent director shall conduct a thorough search of her records and provide the complainants with any additional records located that are responsive to the complainants request, free of charge. If no additional records exist, the respondent director shall provide the complainants with an affidavit stating that the records already provided are the only records maintained by her that relate to the "criteria establishing food service positions for [the eight specified correctional] facilities."

3. Henceforth the respondent director shall strictly comply with the disclosure requirements set forth in 1-19(a), G.S.

4. The complaint is hereby dismissed against the respondent chief.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 28, 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:

Dennis P. Rizzo and the Walker Reception and Special Management Unit Food Service Staff
5 Broadleaf Lane
PO Box 3454
Enfield, CT 06083

Robert J. DeVeau, Chief of Food Services, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; Maria Houser, Director of Human Resources, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction
c/o L.D. McCallum, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street, 2nd floor
Hartford, CT 06105

Maria Houser
Director of Human Resources
Department of Correction
340 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC1996-223/FD/eal/06041997