FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Susan Cogswell and Thomas Scoville,|
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-074|
City of Torrington,
and City of Torrington,
|Respondents||July 22, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 22, 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. The Commission takes administrative notice of the final decision in contested case docket #FIC 1997-041, Mahlon C. Sabo v. Corporation Counsel, City of Torrington; Board of Public Safety, City of Torrington; and City of Torrington, (hereinafter FIC 1997-041).
3. On October 24, 1997, the Commission issued the final decision in FIC 1997- 041 ordering the respondents to provide the complainant Sabo with a copy of a report referred to as Mr. Glen Coes investigative report in the matter of City of Torrington v. Chief Mahlon C. Sabo (hereinafter report).
4. It is found that by letters dated February 9, 1998, the complainants requested that the respondent corporation counsel and Glen Coe provide them with a copy of the report.
5. It is found that the respondent corporation counsel denied the complainants request by letter dated February 13, 1998, informing the complainants that the report no longer existed. He indicated that the Commissions final decision ordered disclosure of the report to Sabo, the complainant in FIC 1997-041, and that as a part of an agreement reached with the City of Torrington (hereinafter city), Sabo had relinquished all rights that he had to the report.
6. Having failed to receive a copy of the report the complainants, by letter dated March 16, 1998 and filed with the Commission on March 19, 1998, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by failing to provide them with a copy of the report and destroying the report.
7. In finding 7 of the final decision in FIC 1997-041, the Commission found that: [T]he requested report is a public record within the meaning of §1-18a(d), G.S.
8. It is found that in settlement of their differences the city and Sabo reached an agreement on or about November 24, 1997, whereby Sabo agreed to relinquish his right to a copy of the report and the city decided not to appeal the Commissions final decision in FIC 1997-041.
9. It is found that following the agreement described in paragraph 8, above, Coe, who had the report on his computer, made minor revisions to it.
10. It is found that the report, in the form ordered disclosed to Sabo by the Commission, no longer exists.
11. The complainants contend that they have been trying to get a copy of the report since November 1997 and that they are entitled to a copy of such report because it was found to be a public record, and should not have been destroyed. The respondents contend that the Commissions order of disclosure was specific to Sabo, and Sabo relinquished his right to the report.
12. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
Each such agency shall 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, the public records pertaining to such agency shall be kept in the office of the clerk of the political subdivision in which such public agency is located or of the Secretary of the State, as the case may be.
13. It is found that the respondents failed to keep and maintain the report in accordance with the requirements of §1-19(a), G.S.
14. It is therefore, concluded that the respondents violated §1-19(a), G.S.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondents shall forthwith use their best efforts to either a) locate a hard copy of the report, which attorney Coe testified at the hearing existed in November 1997, at the time he intended to provide such hard copy to the citys Board of Safety or b) reconstruct the report. The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainants with either a copy of the hard copy located, or a copy of the reconstructed report.
2. The Commission suggests that the respondents consult with the states Public Records Administrator for guidance on the retention and destruction of public records.
3. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with §1-19(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 22, 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:
Susan F. Cogswell 204 Essex Court Torrington, CT 06790
Thomas Scoville 356 Westside Lane Torrington, CT 06790
Corporation Counsel, City of Torrington, and City of Torrington c/o Atty. Albert G. Vasko Corporation Counsel City of Torrington 140 Main Street Torrington, CT 06790-5245
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission