FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Mark R. Bilodeau,
  Complainant  
  against Docket #FIC 2003-301

Recreation Commission,

Town of Willington,

 
  Respondent  June 23, 2004
       

           

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 9, 2003, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  By letter received and filed August 21, 2003, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by not complying with his July 24, 2003 request for records pertaining to the complainant’s unsuccessful application for the position of recreation director.

 

3.  It is found that by letter dated July 24, 2003 the complainant requested certain “answers and documentation” concerning eight questions surrounding his application for the position of recreation director.

 

4.  At the hearing, the complainant withdrew his request concerning three of the eight questions, leaving the following at issue:

 

            a.  “Who and when formulated the prescribed qualifications [for the position of recreation director]?”

 

b.      “When was the decision made to ‘narrow’ the search to ‘more experienced’ candidates?”

 

c.       “Why was any decision made prior to pre-interview or closing dates?”

 

d.      “What is the citation for your authority to unilaterally make final decisions on employment?”

 

e.       “Who will be the hiring authority?  What is the citation for that authority if any?”

 

5.  It is found that on or about October 21, 2003 the respondent provided the complainant with copies of the job applications submitted for the position of recreation director, redacting information that would identify the unsuccessful applicants.

 

6.  The complainant maintains that the records provided on October 21, 2003 were not provided promptly, and that other records responsive to his July 24, 2003 request were not provided at all.

 

7.  Section 1-210(a), G.S. provides in relevant part:

 

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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212…. 

 

8.  Section 1-200(5) provides:

 

    “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, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

 

9.  It is found that the complainant’s July 24, 2003 letter is a request for answers to questions, not a request for records, and that no records exist that are responsive to his request.  It is also found that the decisions concerning the appointment of a recreation director, which are the focus of most of the complainant’s questions, were made at various meetings of the respondent, although the minutes do not necessarily answer the specific questions posed by the complainant in his July 24, 2003 letter.

 

10.  It is also found that the redacted applications provided to the complainant were offered in attempt to satisfy the complainant’s general concerns about the application process, but are not within the scope of the complainant’s request.

 

11.  Section 1-206(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

Any denial of the right to inspect or copy records provided for under section 1-210 shall be made to the person requesting such right by the public agency official who has custody or control of the public record, in writing, within four business days of such request ….

 

12.  Although the respondent did not deny the complainant the right to inspect or copy any records, the respondent acknowledges that, consistent with the spirit of 1-206(a), G.S., it should have responded to the complainant’s request by indicating that no records existed that were responsive to his request.

 

13.  It is concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-210(a), G.S.

 

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

            1.  The complaint is dismissed.

 

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 23, 2004.

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

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:

 

Mark R. Bilodeau

c/o George Saba

80 Krivanec Road

Willington, CT  06279

 

Recreation Commission,

Town of Willington

c/o Edward C. Taiman, Jr., Esq.

Sabia & Hartley

190 Trumbull Street, #202

Hartford, CT  06103

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2003-301/FD/abg/06/24/2004