FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Louis J. Furnari,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-232

Department of Health,

City of Stamford,

 
  Respondent November 10, 2004
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 16, 2004, 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 dated May 15, 2004 and filed on May 18, 2004, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with access to inspect and copy records requested in his March 8 and March 18, 2004 requests.

 

3.      It is found that over the course of three months, starting on March 8, 2004, with an oral request, the complainant sought access to review and copy the following records:

 

a.       “the last 6 radio frequency transmitter field studies and their associated paperwork;

b.      a two page document from L3 Communications, Nardia Microwave-East, concerning an October 14, 2003 calibration of the respondent’s radio frequency radiation test equipment; and

c.       the 1999 study of the respondent by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.”

 

4.      It is found that the complainant was instructed to put his request in writing by Michael E. Kraynak, the respondent’s director of environmental inspection.

 

5.      It is found that on March 18, 2004, the complainant submitted a written  request to the respondent’s law department for access to:

 

a.       “the last six radio frequency transmitter approvals;

b.      the 1999 CCM study of the respondent department; and

c.       [his] personnel file.”

 

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

 

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.  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. 

 

7.      Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant that “any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.” 

 

8.      It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

9.      It is found that the complainant received a copy of the records described in paragraph 3b, above, on March 8, 2004, after further discussion with Mr. Kraynak in the presence of another staff member of the respondent, Mr. Fred Manfredonia.

 

10.   It is found that by letter dated March 24, 2004, the complainant was informed that the records described in paragraph 5, above, were available for his inspection and copying. 

 

11.   It is found that the complainant appeared at the respondent’s human resources department to inspect and copy his personnel file on March 26, 2004 and the respondent obtained the file for the complainant’s inspection.  However, when the complainant returned to that department, after leaving to notify another department that he wanted to inspect records maintained there, he was not permitted to inspect or copy the file.

 

12.   It is found that the complainant was given access to inspect and copy his personnel file on March 29, 2004.

 

13.   It is found that the complainant was provided with a copy of the record described in paragraph 3c and 5b, above, on April 2, 2004, by Mr. Manfredonia after discussing his frustration with him about his inability to obtain records through Mr. Kraynak. 

 

14.   It is found that on April 26, 2004, the complainant was provided access to inspect the records described in paragraphs 3a and 5a, above.  However, certain reports that should have been included with those records were missing.

 

15.   It is found that by letter dated May 21, 2004, the complainant was informed that the records described in paragraphs 3a and 5a, above, including the missing reports were available for his inspection and copying.

 

16.   It is found that on July 14, 2004, the complainant was given access to inspect the records described in paragraphs 3a and 5a, above, including the missing reports and thereby, received full compliance with his March 8 and March 18, 2004 records requests.

 

17.   At the hearing on this matter, the respondent claimed that the delays resulted, in part, from Mr. Kraynak’s efforts to ensure that the records requested by the complainant would not compromise the respondent’s position in the lawsuit and human rights complaint that the complainant filed against the respondent.  The respondent also claimed that the complainant himself delayed disclosure of certain records because he failed to keep the appointments made for inspecting and copying the requested records.  The respondent also claimed that because the records described in paragraphs 3a and 5a, above, are filed by street and not by date, Mr. Kraynak had to search through all of the radio frequency transmitter studies in order to find the last six approvals, which was time consuming.  The respondent claimed that the omission of the missing reports was inadvertent and they were included in the file on the same day after the complainant inspected the files on April 26, 2004.

 

18.   It is found, however, that on at least one occasion, Mr. Kraynak refused to provide the complainant with access to records that were readily available and refused to allow the complainant access to inspect the requested records at certain times even though those times were during regular office hours of the respondent. 

 

19.   It is also found that the better part of a month passed before the respondent notified the complainant that the records described in paragraphs 3a and 5a, above, in their entirety, were available for inspection.  

 

20.   It is further found that the complainant was terminated from his employment with the respondent and at the time of his records requests, the complainant had pending legal proceedings against the respondent and consequently, the complainant and his records requests were treated with apprehension.

 

21.   It is found, based on the circumstances and facts of this case, that the respondent unduly delayed disclosure of the requested records and thereby failed to promptly comply with the complainant’s requests within the meaning of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

22.   It is concluded therefore that the respondent violated the promptness provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

 

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

 

            1.  Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the promptness provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 10, 2004.

 

________________________________

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:

 

Louis J. Furnari

80 Horton Street

Stamford, CT 06902

 

Department of Health,

City of Stamford

c/o Michael Toma, Esq.

Assistant Corporation Counsel

888 Washington Boulevard

Stamford, CT 06904-2152

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-232FD/paj/11/16/2004