FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Lee Wezenski,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-317
Richard E. Leighton, Building
Inspector, Town of Killingworth,
Respondents January 27, 1999


        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 9, 1998, at which time the complainant 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(1), G.S.

        2. It is found that on Friday October 2, 1998 the complainant visited the respondent’s office and at that time made an oral and a written request for a copy of all building and sanitation records concerning the complainant’s home. The respondent’s secretary promised to have the requested copies ready for the complainant for pick up on Monday October 5, 1998. Upon the complainant’s visit on Monday October 5, 1998, he was informed by the secretary that the respondent had instructed her not to copy the requested records. The secretary provided the complainant with a written response from the respondent which indicated the following:

I - we do not do this unless the request is in writing and the records wished to be copied are listed in such a written request and such letter is accompanied by a prepayment as required by statute. Allowance of seven "7" days is allowed for this type request. Since this file is in litigation I would like to review any and all copies before they are released….

        3. The complainant, by letter dated October 7, 1998 and filed with the Commission on October 9, 1998, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent denied him prompt access to a copy of the requested records. The complainant requested that the Commission impose a civil penalty upon the respondent.

        4. It is found that the requested records were eventually made available to the complainant on Tuesday October 6, 1998, following the intervention of the complainant’s attorney, the town attorney for the town of Killingworth ("town") and the town’s first selectman.

        5. It is found that the complainant paid for and received a copy of the requested records on October 7, 1998.

        6. Section 1-15(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:

Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.

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

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file 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 or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.

        8. It is concluded that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-19(a), G.S.

        9. It is found that the respondent’s provision of access to the requested records, under the facts and circumstances of this case was not prompt within the meaning of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., and therefore, he violated those provisions.

        10. It is also found that the violation described in paragraph 9, above, was without reasonable grounds.

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

        1. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the promptness provisions of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        2. The Commission in its discretion, declines to impose a civil penalty in this case. However, it is apparent that the respondent would benefit from becoming more familiar with the public’s right and his agency’s responsibility under the FOI Act.

 

 

 

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 27, 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:

 

Lee Wezenski

62 Blueberry Hill Reserve

Killingworth, CT 06419

Richard E. Leighton,

Building Inspector,

Town of Killingworth

c/o Atty. William Howard

386 Main Street

Middletown, CT 06457

 

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-317FD/mrb01291999