OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Donald T. Hogan,
Docket #FIC 2000-286
August 23, 2000
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 5, 2000, at which time the respondent failed to appear, however, the complainant appeared and presented testimony, one exhibit 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. It is found that on or about
May 24, 2000, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with
the balance in the Plymouth Center School Building Fund (hereinafter “fund”).
3. It is also found that by
letter dated May 30, 2000, the complainant requested that the respondent
provide him with the ending balance in the fund as of November 2, 1999,
January 30, 2000 and April 1, 2000.
Having failed to receive the requested balance, the complainant, by
letter dated June 5, 2000 and filed on June 7, 2000, appealed to the
Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”)
Act by denying him access to the
balance in the fund, as described in paragraphs 2 and 3, above.
5. It is found that the
complainant has been trying to ascertain the balance in the fund, without
success, and has spoken to various officials, including the Mayor, the
Superintendent of Schools and the Comptroller, following which he directed his
requests described in paragraphs 2 and 3, above, to the respondent.
6. Section 1-200(5), G.S. defines public records to mean “[a]ny recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.” [Emphasis added.]
7. Section 1-210(a), G.S. further provides:
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 1-212. 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."
8. It is unclear from the record
what the respondent’s position is because neither the respondent, nor a
representative appeared at the hearing on this matter, even though the
respondent was mailed notice of the hearing in this matter, by certified mail,
to the respondent’s address.
9. However, it is concluded
that if the requested fund balance exists, and is maintained by the
respondent, such record is a public record within the meaning of §§1-200(5),
G.S. and 1-210(a), G.S.
10. It is also concluded that the
respondent failed to prove that the requested fund balance is exempt from
disclosure pursuant to any federal law or state statute, within the meaning of
11. Consequently, it is further
concluded that if the requested fund balance exists, the respondent violated
§1-210(a), G.S., when he failed to promptly provide the complainant with
access to such balance.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Forthwith, the respondent shall provide the complainant with a copy of the requested fund balance, if it exists, without charge.
2. If the requested fund balance does not exist, the respondent shall forthwith so inform the complainant in a written affidavit attesting to that fact.
3. The respondent’s failure to timely provide the requested fund balance to the complainant, and to attend the hearing in this matter is troubling.
4. A civil penalty is recommended in this case following a further hearing into whether any violation of the FOI Act was committed by the respondent without reasonable grounds, within the meaning of §1-206(b)(2), G.S.
5. The Commission shall issue a subpoena to compel the attendance of the respondent at the civil penalty hearing.
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:
Donald T. Hogan
290 Harwinton Avenue
PO Box 13
Plymouth, CT 06782-0013
Chairman, Building Committee, Plymouth Public Schools
c/o William Allread
24 Makara Street
Terryville, CT 06786-6610
Melanie R. Balfour
Acting Clerk of the Commission