FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
John H. Webster,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1999-210
Contract Compliance Officer,
City of Bridgeport; and City
of Bridgeport,
Respondents August 11, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 23, 1999, 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 1-200(1), G.S. [formerly 1-18a(1), G.S.]

        2. By letter dated April 30, 1999, the complainant requested that the respondent officer supply him with copies of all certified payroll records regarding the Magnet School Project (hereinafter "payroll records"), and informed such officer that if the payroll records were not received within four business days, he would file a complaint with the Commission and that criminal charges would be brought against such officer in state and federal venues.

        3. By letter dated May 5, 1999, the respondents informed the complainant that the payroll records were no longer in existence.

        4. By letter dated May 5, 1999, and filed with the Commission May 6, 1999, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act and the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (hereinafter "RICO") Act by failing to provide him copies of the payroll records.

        5. It is found that the complainant received the letter described in paragraph 3, above, shortly after filing the complaint in this matter.

        6. Section 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.], provides in relevant part:

[e]xcept 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…or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212…

(Emphasis added.)

        7. By letter dated May 28, 1999, the respondents informed the Commission that the payroll records had been destroyed in accordance with an approved State Public Records Administrator retention schedule.

        8. It is found that the respondents did not send the complainant a copy of the letter described in paragraph 7, above. However, it is also found that the clerk of the Commission provided the complainant with a copy of such letter and that, prior to the hearing in this matter, the complainant was aware that the payroll records had been destroyed.

        9. It is found that the payroll records were destroyed in 1997 as described in paragraph 7, above, and that, accordingly, at all times pertinent to this matter, such records were not maintained or kept on file by the respondents within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.]

        10. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the provisions of 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.], as alleged in the complaint.

        11. It is also concluded that the Commission has no authority to enforce the RICO 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 hereby dismissed.

        2. The Commission notes that the complainant’s failure to withdraw this complaint prior to the hearing resulted in the nonessential expenditure of scarce state resources, as well as in inconvenience to the respondents. The Commission wishes to make the complainant aware of the provisions in 1-206(b)(2), G.S. [formerly 1-21i(b), G.S.], which provides that the executive director of the Commission shall not schedule an appeal for hearing without first seeking and obtaining leave of the Commission, if the director has reason to believe an appeal would constitute an abuse of the Commission's administrative process. Moreover, such statute also provides that, if the Commission finds that a person has taken an appeal frivolously, without reasonable grounds and solely for the purpose of harassing the respondent agency, it has the power to impose against that person a civil penalty of not less than twenty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars.

 

 

         Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of

August 11, 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:

 

John H. Webster
168A Harrison Avenue
Milford, CT 06460
Contract Compliance Officer,
City of Bridgeport; and City
of Bridgeport
c/o Antonio Senes
Consultant, City of Bridgeport
45 Lyon Terrace
Bridgeport, CT 06604
 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1999-210FD/mes/08111999