FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Misty Williams and Dawn Massey,  
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-473

James Finch, Finance Director,

Town of Branford,

 
  Respondent August 24, 2005
       

 

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 19, 2005, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, this matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2004-457 Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. James Finch, Finance Director, Town of Branford; Docket #FIC 2004-468, Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. James Finch, Finance Director, Town of Branford; Docket #FIC 2004-541, Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. James Finch, Finance Director, Town of Branford; and Docket #FIC 2004-569, Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. James Finch, Finance Director, Town of Branford.  At the hearing in this matter, Dawn Massey for whom the complainant, Misty Williams, is agent, requested and was granted party status, pursuant to 1-206(b)(1), G.S.  The case caption has been amended accordingly.

 

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 September 23, 2004, the complainant, Mrs. Williams, made a request for a certified copy of:

 

a.       “each and every address inspected by Mr. Michael Milici to correspond to the Town’s June 30, 2003 (Transaction Date) payment to him in the amount of $910.00 that underlies Batch 01449; Transaction Number 097426; and Invoice Number “27 INSPECTIONS”;

 

b.      each and every address inspected by Mr. Michael Milici to correspond to the Town’s June 30, 2003 (Transaction Date) payment to him in the amount of $900.00 that underlies Batch 01490; Transaction Number 097866; Purchase order (P.O.) #0197764; and invoice Number “30 INSPECTIONS”; and

 

c.       each and every address inspected by Mr. Michael Milici to correspond to the Town’s June 30, 2003 (Transaction Date) payment to him in the amount of $1,200.00 that underlies Batch 01503; Transaction Number 098115; Purchase Order (P.O.) #019764; and Invoice Number “40 INSPECTIONS.”

 

At the hearing on this matter, the complainants requested the imposition of civil penalties.

 

3.      It is found that by letter dated October 6, 2004, the respondent’s administrative assistant responded to Mrs. Williams’ request informing her that her request had been received and that she would be notified once any responsive records were compiled and reviewed.

 

4.      By letter dated October 12, 2004 and filed on October 14, 2004, the complainants appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with Mrs. Williams’ records request.

 

5.      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 . . . receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 

 

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

 

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

 

8.      It is found that while the respondent maintains the lists of addresses inspected, he cannot identify with any certainty which payments were made for which list of addresses because the requested records are not maintained in a manner that would allow him to match the addresses inspected with the payments made to the inspector.

 

9.      It is found that the respondent, even with the assistance of town personnel more familiar with the requested records, was not able to identify the addresses inspected by Mr. Milici that corresponded with the payments Mrs. Williams referenced in her request. 

 

10.   Consequently, it is found that the respondent is not able to provide any records responsive to Mrs. Williams’ request because such records do not exist.

 

11.   It is found that neither the respondent nor his administrative assistant notified the complainants that the respondent was not able to provide the complainant with any records responsive to their September 23, 2004 request.

 

12.   It is found that the respondent’s administrative assistant is responsible for responding to all FOI requests that the respondent receives and that during the period between September 3 and October 19, 2004, the respondent received forty-three records requests from the complainants.

 

13.   It is found that Mrs. Williams made a request similar to her September 23, 2004 request on September 8, 2004, which request included the records described in paragraph 2, above.  It is found that the respondent compiled and provided the complainants with records responsive to the September 8, 2004 request, except for the records described in paragraph 2, above.

 

14.   It is found that the respondent’s administrative assistant did not take any further action with respect to the complainant’s September 23, 2004 request because she thought that she had already responded adequately to Mrs. Williams’ request for the records described in paragraph 2, above, with her response to the September 8, 2004 request. 

 

15.   It is found that, in conjunction with her other responsibilities, the respondent’s administrative assistant was overwhelmed with the volume of requests for records she had received during that period of time and did not act in bad faith with respect to the complainants’ September 23, 2004 request.

 

16.   It is concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-210(a), G.S. as alleged in the complaint.

 

17.   The Commission declines to consider the respondent’s request for the imposition of a civil penalty against the complainants.

 

18.   The Commission encourages the respondent to ensure that the lines of communication remain open between his office and requesters of public records.

 

The 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.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 24, 2005.

 

________________________________

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:

 

Misty Williams

225 Stony Creek Road

Branford, CT 06405

 

Dawn Massey

225 Stony Creek Road

Branford, CT 06405

 

James Finch,

Finance Director,

Town of Branford

c/o Elizabeth P. Gilson, Esq.

383 Orange Street

New Haven, CT 06511

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-473FD/paj/8/25/2005