FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Leonard S. Campbell,|
|against||Docket #FIC 1997-392|
|Mayor, Town of Plymouth;
Plymouth Industrial and Development
Commission, Town of Plymouth; Plymouth
Industrial and Development Commission,
Town of Plymouth; and Town of Plymouth,
|Respondents||July 8, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 1, 1998, 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.
2. By letter dated September 22, 1997, the complainant requested that the respondent mayor provide him with a copy of the Town of Plymouth Industrial & Development Commissions Requisition for Payment to the CT Department of Economic Development for the period 4/1/91 to 4/30/97 for the Plymouth Industrial Park Phase III Project signed by you as the Requesting Official together with all attached or associated documentation, any cover letters, all resubmittals by you or any other Plymouth officials and any & all D.E.D. responses to date.
3. By letter dated September 25, 1997, the respondent mayor informed the complainant that the information as requested did not exist.
4. By letters dated October 31, 1997, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with a copy of the one-page, two sided Requisition for Payment application entitled Connecticut Department of Economic Development, 865 Brook St., Rocky Hill, CT 06067-3405, REQUISITION FOR PAYMENT, that you signed as the Requesting Official for the specified Applicant: Plymouth Industrial & Development Commission of the Address: 80 Main Street, Terryville, CT 06786, with the Name of Project: Plymouth Industrial Park Phase III, Requisition #1, Amount: $106,100.50, for the period From 4/1/91 to 4/30/97 regarding Actual disbursements to date: From 4-1-91 to 4-30-97, which requisition was signed by you and submitted between the dates of April 7, 1997 and June 10, 1997 to the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. The complainant also requested any records submitted by the respondent commission with the requisition, as well as any responses received by the respondents from the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.
5. By letter dated November 25, 1997, the respondent town again informed the complainant that the information as requested did not exist, but provided the complainant with a copy of an application for $111,882.75 submitted on 8/4/97 to the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development by the respondent commission which was signed by the respondent Mayor. Such record indicates that the project name is Plymouth Industrial Park Phase III.
6. By letter dated December 1, 1997, and filed on December 4, 1997, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by denying him copies of the requested documents.
7. It is found that, to the extent that they exist, the requested records are public records within the meaning of §§1-18a(5), G.S.
8. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1- 15 .
9. Section 1-15(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record. The fee for any copy provided in accordance with the [FOI] act by [municipal] public agencies, as defined in section 1-18a, shall not exceed fifty cents per page .
10. It is found that, after the complaint described in paragraph 6, above, was filed, Plymouth Comptroller Manual Gomes sent an undated memorandum to the complainant, enclosing a copy of a Requisition for Payment application, which record differs from the record described in paragraph 5, above. Mr. Gomes also informed the complainant that a requisition #1 in the amount of $106,100.50 did not exist, and invited the complainant into the offices of the respondent to review the files at issue.
11. By letter dated February 5, 1998, Mr. Gomes informed the complainant that he did not understand which record the complainant sought to review and again invited the complainant to contact him or to inspect the respondents records.
12. It is found that the respondents had initially submitted a requisition to the state which was found to be incorrect and which had been returned to the respondents by the state. It is further found that such requisition, including the attachments thereto, is the record which the complainant seeks by his requests described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above. It is also found that no record exists which exactly conforms to such requests but that the complainant could not be expected to exactly describe the requested record.
13. It is further found, however, that when the respondents finally offered the complainant opportunities to clarify his request, as described in paragraphs 10 and 11, above, the complainant did not accept such invitations.
14. It is further found that, at the hearing in this matter, the respondents offered to provide the complainant with the records he seeks.
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. The Commission reminds the respondents that providing assistance to the public with respect to inspection of public records can in many instances avoid costly and needless hearings at this Commission. In this case, such a hearing could have been avoided if the respondent mayor provided such assistance when he first received the complainants request, rather than deny such request out of hand. In this regard, the Commission urges all parties to communicate openly with each other with respect to future requests under the FOI Act.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 8, 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:
Leonard S. Campbell 73 Highland Avenue Torrington, CT 06790
Mayor, Town of Plymouth; Chairman, Plymouth Industrial and Development Commission, Town of Plymouth; Plymouth Industrial and Development Commission, Town of Plymouth; and Town of Plymouth c/o Manuel Gomes Town Hall 80 Main Street Terryville, CT 06786
Town of Plymouth c/o Atty. Bruce A. Chadwick Shipman and Goodwin One American Row Hartford, CT 06103-2819
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission