FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Patricia Daddona and The Day,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-344
Mayor, City of Groton;

and City of Groton,

Respondents September 8, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 4, 1999, at which time the complainants 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 October 6, 1998, the complainants made a request to the respondent mayor for a copy of the police department’s morale survey (hereinafter "morale survey") commissioned by Police Chief Wilfred Blanchette and compiled by Ralph Braithwaite of Limitless Consulting Group (hereinafter "Limitless"). By letter dated October 6, 1998, the complainants made a request for the same morale survey from Limitless.

        3. By letter dated October 8, 1998, the respondent mayor responded to the complainants’ request indicating that it had been forwarded to Chief Lawrence Gerrish of the Groton Police Department.

        4. It is found that subsequent to the complainants’ receipt of the respondent mayor’s response but prior to October 15, 1998, the complainants received what they thought was a complete copy of the morale survey from the respondents.

        5. It is found that on October 19, 1998, the complainants received a copy of the morale survey from Limitless which contained two pages more than the copy they received from the respondents.

        6. By letter dated November 2, 1998 and filed on November 5, 1998, the complainants appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by failing to provide a complete copy of the morale survey upon request.

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

[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 receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.

        8. Section 1-212(a), G.S. [formerly 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.

        9. It is found that the requested morale survey is a public record within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.].

        10. At the hearing on this matter, the complainants argued that although they eventually received a copy of the two missing pages, the respondents violated the FOI Act by failing to promptly provide a complete copy of the morale survey, knowing that they had no statutory authority to withhold any portions of it.

        11. At the hearing on this matter, the respondents claimed that the survey is information obtained by illegal means and that disclosure of the morale survey is not required pursuant to 1-210(b)(12), G.S., [formerly 1-19(b)(12), G.S.]. The respondents further argued that because disclosure of the morale survey is not required, there was no violation of the FOI Act in withholding any portion thereof, including the two pages withheld from the complainants.

        12. In support of their claim in paragraph 11, above, the respondents maintain that the morale survey was commissioned by the former police chief. The respondents further maintain that the contract with Limitless was not properly entered into pursuant to Groton City Ordinances; the information in the morale survey was therefore "obtained by illegal means"; and consequently they were not required to disclose the morale survey at all.

        13. It is found however, that even if the respondents’ claims in paragraph 12, above, were true, which the Commission lacks jurisdiction to determine, the information contained in the morale survey was not "obtained by illegal means" within the meaning of 1-210(b)(12), G.S. Further, any claim of exemption from disclosure by the respondents is moot since the respondents already disclosed the subject morale survey.

        14. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated 1-210(a), G.S. and 1-212(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S. and 1-15(a), G.S., respectively] when they failed to provide the complainants with a complete copy of the morale survey.

 

        On the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint, no order is recommended by the Commission.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of
September 8, 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:

 

Patricia Daddona and The Day
PO Box 1231
New London, CT 06320-1231
Mayor, City of Groton; and City of Groton
c/o Atty. Peter S. Gianacoplos
and Atty. Mark O. Grater
PO Box 942
Groton, CT 06340-0942
 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-344FD/mrb/09151999