FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Gail A. Shea,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-268
Charter Revision Commission, Town
of Stonington; and Town of Stonington,
Respondents January 13, 1999


        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 30, 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 respondent commission is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S.

        2. It is found that on August 4, 1998 the complainant visited the town of Stonington town clerk’s office and requested from the town clerk all the minutes of the respondent commission meetings held between July 6 and July 27, 1998, inclusive, (hereinafter "minutes" or "requested minutes").

        3. It is found that the town clerk informed the complainant that she did not have the requested minutes, however, that such minutes might be in the selectman’s office.

        4. It is found that the complainant then went to the selectman’s office and made a request for the minutes, but was informed by staff that they did not have the minutes.

        5. Having been unable to get access to the minutes on August 4, 1998, the complainant, by letter dated September 1, 1998 and filed with the Commission on September 3, 1998, alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to have available on August 4, 1998 the minutes of the respondent commission’s meetings held between July 6 and July 27, 1998, inclusive.

 

        6. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

Each … 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 ….

        7. Section 1-21(a), G.S., further provides in relevant part:

[the] minutes shall be available for public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer.

        8. It is found that the respondent commission generally maintains its minutes in the town clerk’s office in accordance with 1-19(a), G.S.

        9. However, it is found that the requested minutes were not available for public inspection on August 4, 1998, at the time of the complainant’s visit to the town clerk’s office.

        10. It is found that the minutes were unavailable on August 4, 1998 because the file containing such minutes had been taken home by an intern to do work, however, such file was returned to the town clerk’s office on August 5, 1998, at which time the requested minutes were made available to the complainant.

        11. It is concluded, that the respondent commission violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to have available on August 4, 1998 for public inspection, the minutes of its meetings held between July 6 and July 27, 1998.

        12. It is also found that there was no willful attempt on the part of the respondents to deny the complainant access to the requested minutes, and as soon as it was discovered that the file containing the minutes was not in its usual place every attempt was made by the respondents to secure the file and provide the complainant with the requested minutes the day after her request.

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

        1. Henceforth, the respondent commission shall strictly comply with 1-21(a), G.S.

 

     Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 13, 1999.

 

 

_________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

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:

 

Gail A. Shea

197 River Road

Pawcatuck, CT 06379

Charter Revision

Commission, Town of

Stonington; and Town of

Stonington

c/o Atty. Thomas J. Londregan

Conway & Londregan, PC

38 Huntington Street

PO Box 1351

New London, CT 06320-1351

 

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-268FD/mrb01141999