OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2001-492|
|Town Manager, Town of Bloomfield,|
|Respondent||August 14, 2002|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 30, 2001, at which time the complainant appeared, and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The respondent failed to appear at the hearing, although this Commission’s return receipt records reflect that the Notice of Hearing and Order to Show Cause in this matter were signed by the respondent as “delivered” to him on November 13, 2001, and such signed return receipt was returned to this Commission’s office on November 14, 2001.
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), G.S.
2. It is found that by letter dated August 14, 2001, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with an opportunity to review his “personnel files” including “the non-personnel file” (hereinafter “requested records”).
3. It is found that the respondent’s secretary responded to the request and gave the complainant an appointment for September 25, 2001 at 10:00 a.m. to review the requested records.
4. It is found that on September 25, 2001 the respondent permitted the complainant to review one file but not the “non-personnel file”. The complainant was told that the personnel director, Mrs. Barbara Williams, said that he would have to make another appointment to review the “non-personnel file”. The complainant referenced his request letter pointing out that he had asked to see both files. The complainant was then referred to the respondent’s Executive Assistant, Ms. Baine Wild. Wild informed him that he would not see the “non-personnel file”. Thereafter the complainant left.
5. By letter dated October 21, 2001 and postmarked October 25, 2001 the complainant filed this appeal with the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying him access to review all materials in any personnel related files concerning the complainant.
6. Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides, in relevant part:
"Public records or files" means any 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.
7. Section 1-210(a), G.S., further provides, in relevant part:
(a) 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 1-212. 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. [Emphasis added.]
8. Section 1-213, G.S., further provides:
(a) The Freedom of Information Act shall be:
(2) Construed as requiring each public agency to disclose information in its personnel files, birth records or confidential tax records to the individual who is the subject of such information. [Emphasis added.]
9. It is found that the respondent and/or the personnel department of the town of Bloomfield maintain or keep on file certain files containing personnel related records concerning the complainant.
10. It is found that the files and records described in paragraph 9, above, are responsive to the complainant’s request as described in paragraph 2, above.
11. It is concluded that the files and records described in paragraph 9, above, constitute “public records” within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
12. It is found that by letter dated November 13, 2001, the respondent’s Executive Assistant informed the complainant that “We have received a copy of your complaint filed with the Freedom of Information Commission. I have contacted our labor attorney… and he advises that you should have access to the material you wish to review. You may contact Mrs. Barbara Williams in the Human Relations Department to set up a time for this review.”
13. It is found that the respondent’s November 13, 2001 offer to provide the complainant with access to review the requested records, some three months after the complainant’s August request, was not prompt within the meaning of §1-210(a), G.S.
14. It is therefore, concluded that the respondent violated §1-210(a), G.S., as alleged in the complaint.
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 access to review and/or obtain a copy of all records concerning the complainant that are kept in “personnel” and “non-personnel” files, if he has not already done so.
2. This commission shall convene a further hearing pursuant to §1-206 (b)(2), G.S., limited to providing the respondent with an opportunity to show cause why a civil penalty of not less than twenty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars ought not to be imposed upon him for his failure to promptly provide the complainant with access to review the requested records.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 14, 2002.
Petrea A. Jones
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:
Town of Bloomfield
c/o Daniel P. Murphy, Esq.
Siegel, O'Connor, Zangari,
O'Donnell & Beck
150 Trumbull Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission