FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Herbert Latournes,  

Complainant

 

against

Docket #FIC 1996-278

Secretary, Chalker Beach Improvement Association; and Treasurer, Chalker Beach Improvement Association,  

Respondents

June 25, 1997

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 10, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. This matter was consolidated for purposes of hearing with docket #FIC 1996-412, Herbert Latournes v. Tax Collector, Chalker Beach Improvement Association.

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. By letters dated June 24 and 27, 1996 to the respondent secretary and treasurer respectively, the complainant requested to inspect or copy the records of the Chalker Beach Improvement Association ("CBIA") for the years 1992 - 1996.

3. Having failed to receive a response to his request as set forth in paragraph 2, above, the complainant appealed to the Commission by letter dated July 4, 1996, and filed with the Commission on July 8, 1996.

4. It is found that by letter dated July 8, 1996, the respondent secretary stated the complainant would be contacted to set up a meeting concerning the complainant’s request as set forth in paragraph 2, above.

5. It is also found that the complainant met with the respondent secretary and the chairman of the CBIA on July 15, 1996 during which the complainant submitted a written list of those documents of which he was seeking copies.

6. The respondents contend that the complainant was offered access to all CBIA records, including agendas, minutes, treasurer’s reports and all material attached to the minutes and provided at the meetings of the CBIA.

7. The respondents further contend that copies were made of all records of which the complainant requested copies, but that the complainant did not pay for the copies and so he was not given the copies requested.

8. The respondents seek the imposition of civil penalties against the complainant.

9. Section 1-19(a), G.S., states in pertinent part:

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, 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 or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.

10. Section 1-15(a), G.S., in turn, provides in pertinent part that "[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record."

11. It is found that, under the circumstances of this case, the complainant failed to prove that the respondents, through the respondent secretary, failed to provide him with access to inspect or copy the requested records as required by 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S.

12. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the Freedom of Information Act with respect to the allegations contained in this complaint.

13. The Commission, in its discretion, declines to impose a civil penalty upon the complainant in this case, as requested by the respondents.

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

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

2. Although not raised in the complaint in this matter, the Commission notes that the CBIA does not seem to be in compliance with 1-19(a), G.S., which requires every public agency to keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place and, if there is no such office or place of business, in the office of the clerk of the political subdivision in which such public agency is located.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 25, 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:
Herbert Latournes
5 Beach Road West
Old Saybrook, CT 06475-1603

Secretary, Chalker Beach Improvement Association; and Treasurer, Chalker Beach Improvement Association
c/o Joseph C. Morelli, Esq.
Law Offices of Mark E. Salmone and Morelli
461 Farmington Avenue, Suite 100
Hartford, CT 06105
__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-278/FD/eal/06301997