OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Docket #FIC 2000-119
Town Manager, Town of Rocky Hill,
August 23, 2000
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested
case on June 28, 2000, at which time the complainant and the respondent
appeared 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 §1-200(1),
2. By letter dated February 17, 2000 to the respondent, the
complainant made a request for “all information pertaining to the Rocky Hill
High School Auditorium renovations including the architect of record and
consultants (including addresses and phone numbers), minutes of all meetings
during which the renovation project was discussed, documentation concerning
the bid process, and the RFPs.” The
complainant also requested 24 hours notice of any meetings of the Government
Operations Committee and the Permanent Building Committee.
By letter dated March
8, 2000 and filed on March 13, 2000, the complainant appealed to this
Commission alleging that because the respondent failed to respond to his
request within four business days, the respondent denied his request and such
denial is in violation of the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act.
Section 1-210(a), G.S.,
provides in relevant part that:
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.
Any agency rule or regulation, or part thereof, that conflicts with the
provisions of this subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights
granted by this subsection shall be void.”
Section 1-212(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
. . . .”
It is found that the
requested records are public records within the meaning of §1-210(a), G.S.
At the hearing on
this matter, the complainant clarified his request to include access to a
website that contains many, if not all, of the architectural plans for the
It is found that the
respondent received the complainant’s request on February 17, 2000 and
forwarded it to the respondent’s FOI officer, who is also the town clerk,
who began compiling the responsive records that were maintained by the town at
the time of the request.
It is found that on
or about February 22, 2000, the complainant’s brother, Kevin Sudell,
presented himself at the office of the town clerk and made an inquiry about
the progress of the compilation of the records he, Kevin Sudell, requested.
is found that the town clerk/FOI officer was not aware of any other request
made by either of the Sudell brothers and reasonably believed that Kevin
Sudell was inquiring about the February 17, 2000 request and provided him with
access to inspect the records she had compiled from which he, Kevin Sudell,
selected certain records and received copies of the same.
is also found that the town clerk/FOI officer reasonably believed that she had
complied with Steven Sudell’s request and having heard nothing to the
contrary, until the notice of a complaint was sent to her by this Commission,
she did not proceed any further regarding his request.
respect to the complainant’s request for 24 hours notice of any meetings of
the Government Operations Committee and the Permanent Building Committee, it
is found that the town clerk/FOI officer informed the appropriate individuals
regarding the complainant’s request and instructed them to provide the
complainant with notice.
is found that the complainant received a list of the dates on which the
meetings of the Permanent Building Committee would take place from the
facilities manager and that, at that time the Government Operations Committee
had not met again since the complainant’s request for notice of its meetings
and therefore no notice had been provided to the complainant.
complainant contends that the list he received from the facilities manager did
not fully comply with his request because it did not include the time or
location of the meetings and thereby failed to give him meaningful notice of
1-227, G.S., provides in relevant part that “[t]he public agency shall,
where practicable, give notice by mail of each regular meeting, and of any
special meeting which is called, at least one week prior to the date set for
the meeting, to any person who has filed a written request for such notice
with such body.”
the complainant’s allegations, it is found that he failed to prove that the
notice provided by the facilities manager was in anyway deficient.
respect to the complainant’s request for access to the website, it is found
that the website is an in-house website of Vinick Associates Incorporated used
for “in-progress architectural drawings” related to the auditorium
is found that Vinick Associates Incorporated is a private company that has
contracted with the contracting company for the auditorium project and denied
the town’s request to provide access to the website to town residents.
is found that the website is a secure site that can only be accessed through a
series of passwords, which the town does not have.
is found that the town facilities manager may gain access to the website upon
request to Vinick Associates Incorporated and by using a temporary password
provided by Vinick Associates Incorporated that is different upon every
request and allows him access for a limited number of hours.
is found that access through the facilities manager’s computer terminal was
offered to the complainant and his brother, but was refused because such
access was not in the form they desired which was access to the website from
their home, or any other computer terminal, at will.
is found that a good faith effort was made to provide the complainant with
access to the website.
upon the evidence in this case, it is found that the respondent acted
reasonably in his efforts to comply with every aspect of the complainant’s
It is concluded,
therefore, that the respondent did not violate the provisions of §1-210(a) or
§1-227, G.S., with respect to the complainant’s February 17, 2000 request.
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 the complainant’s and his brother’s failure to seek clarity regarding the lack of response to the complainant’s request before filing the complaint with this Commission and that such failure created an unnecessary delay in compliance with the complainant’s request. Given the fact that misunderstandings regarding their identities are “a fact of life for them,” the Commission encourages the complainant and his brother to operate in the spirit of cooperation to make clear who is whom with respect to future FOI requests.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 23, 2000.
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:
30 Chapin Avenue
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
Town Manager, Town of Rocky Hill
c/o Atty. Michael H. Heneghan
Heneghan, Kennedy & Allen, LLC
West Hill Center, 21 New Britain Avenue
Rocky Hill, CT 06067-1130
Melanie R. Balfour
Acting Clerk of the Commission