FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

H. R. Borer,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997- 347

Board of Commissioners, West Shore Fire District, Town of West Haven and Clerk, West Shore Fire District, Town of West Haven,

 

 

Respondents

February 25, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 14, 1997, at which time the complainant and the 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(1), G.S., ( 1-18a(a), G.S., prior to Oct. 1, 1997).

        2. By letter of complaint dated May 8, 1997 and filed on May 12, 1997, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by:

a. denying him a copy of the published legal notice for the annual meeting of May 2, 1997; and

b. failing to properly notice the annual meeting, described in 2a, above.

        3. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant withdrew his complaint with respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2b of the findings, above.

        4. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2a of the findings, above, it is found that on May 8, 1997 the complainant visited the respondent district’s office and at that time requested that the respondent district’s administrative assistant/ secretary-treasurer (hereinafter "treasurer") provide him with a copy of the notice published in the newspaper for the May 2, 1997 annual meeting.

        5. It is found that the treasurer provided the complainant with a copy of the notice as it ran in the newspaper.

        6. It is found that the complainant indicated to the treasurer that he wanted the "original" notice to which she replied that he should go to the New Haven Register to obtain it.

        7. It is found that the complainant then visited the New Haven Register’s office and obtained a copy of the treasurer’s cover letter to the New Haven Register requesting that the newspaper run the notice.

        8. It is found that there is a significant breakdown in communication between the complainant and the treasurer, and at the time of the complainant ’s request the treasurer was impolite toward the complainant.

        9. However, it is also found that the treasurer provided the complainant with the only record of the published notice she had.

        10. Consequently, no violation of the FOI Act occurred.

        11. At the hearing the complainant also indicated that the district’s chairman had implemented a procedure whereby requests to obtain the public records of the district are to be made through the office of the West Shore Fire department chief.

        12. It is found that such a procedure does not in itself violate any provisions of the FOI Act.

        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.

        2. The Commission wishes to suggest to the complainant, the treasurer and the respondent board that in keeping with the intent and spirit of the FOI Act they each work toward the improvement of their dialogue and communication which should avoid future complaints of this nature.

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 25, 1998.

_________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
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:
H. R. Borer, Sr.
67 Ocean Avenue
West Haven, CT 06516

Board of Commissioners, West Shore Fire District, Town of West Haven and Clerk, West Shore Fire District, Town of West Haven
c/o Atty. Louis Smith Votto
Donahue, Votto & DeGennaro, PC
415 Main Street
P.O. Box 411
West Haven, CT 06516 - 0411

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-159/FD/tcg/02251998