FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-518
August 27, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Jeffrey W. Burkitt and Ansonia Republican Town Committee, Complainants
against
Board of Aldermen, Town of Ansonia Respondent

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 21, 1997, at which time the complainants and the 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. It is found that on September 3, 1996, the complainants visited the Ansonia town clerk’s office and requested a copy of the tape recording of the respondent’s August 27, 1996 special meeting.

3. It is found that the town clerk informed the complainants that the requested tape was not on file, following which the complainants contacted the respondent’s recording secretary, who informed them that she had thrown the tape away because it was inaudible.

4. Having failed to receive a copy of the requested tape, the complainants, by letter dated September 9, 1996 and filed on September 11, 1996, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") by destroying the requested tape. The complainants requested that the Commission impose penalties upon the respondent pursuant to 1-21k, G.S.

5. It is found that the respondent held a special meeting on August 27, 1996.

Docket #FIC 1996-518 Page 2

6. It is also found that the respondent’s recording secretary did not attend the August 27, 1996 meeting, and her husband, a member of the respondent, on his own initiative, taped the meeting using his personal tape and tape recorder.

7. It is further found that the respondent’s recording secretary used her husband’s tape, described in paragraph 6 of the findings, above, to prepare the minutes of the August 27, 1996 meeting, after which she threw the tape in the garbage.

8. It is found that portions of the tape were inaudible; that it took the respondent’s recording secretary five hours to listen to, transcribe the tape, and prepare the minutes; that she was frustrated and disgusted with the poor quality of the tape; and that she felt the tape belonged to her husband and was useless.

9. Section 1-18a(d), G.S., defines public record as "[a]ny recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method."

10. It is concluded that the tape, described in paragraph 6 of the findings, above, was not prepared, owned, used, received or retained by the respondent and therefore, is not a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

11. It is therefore, concluded that the respondent did not violate the 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., when it failed to provide the complainants with a copy of the tape.

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

1. The complaint is dismissed.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 27, 1997.

__________________________
Dolores E. Tarnowski
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:
Jeffrey W. Burkitt and Ansonia Republican Town Committee
c/o George W. Boath, Jr., Esq.
Zanella, Gilardi & Boath
1129 Essex Place
Stratford, CT. 06497

Board of Alderman, Town of Ansonia
c/o John F. X. Androski, Esq.
Androski, Androski, Androski & Androski
P. O. Box 656
156 Main Street
Ansonia, CT. 06401

__________________________
Dolores E. Tarnowski
Clerk of the Commission
FIC1996-518/mes/09041997