FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Richard H. Kosinski,|
|against||Docket #FIC 2006-065|
City of New Britain,
|Respondent||February 16, 2007|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 1, 2006, 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 of complaint received and filed February 17, 2006, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that he received no response to his request for records from the respondent.
3. It is found that the complainant requested by letter dated January 18, 2006 all records “concerning 550 Ellis St., New Britain, CT during the time said premises were occupied by Vilma Lopez, formerly known as Vilma Alviles, from on or about February 1, 2001 to on or about June 30, 2003.”
4. It is found that the respondent’s executive director, on February 15, 2006, telephoned the complainant to apologize for not responding in a timely manner, and directed a 3-1/2 hour search, conducted by four staff members, of the respondent’s offices for the requested records.
5. It is also found that the respondent’s executive director, on February 22, 2006, directed an additional 3-1/2 hour search by two staff members of an off-site building where the respondent maintains its archive files. This search uncovered Ms. Aviles/Lopez’s tenant file, and inspection reports from 2004 forward, but not the inspection reports for the fiscal years 2001, 2002 and 2003, which were the specific records sought by the complainant.
6. It is found that the respondent’s executive director, on February 24, 2006, directed an additional seven hour search by the same two staff members for the inspection records at the off-site location.
7. It is found that the respondent’s executive director, on March 9, 2006, personally spent another two hours going through a number of archive files trying to find the requested records, without success.
8. It is found that, on March 10, 2006, the respondent’s executive director, again accompanied by two staff members, made a final attempt to find the inspection reports, without success.
9. It is found that the requested records were contained among many records that were hurriedly transferred to the off-site location in 2005, that inspection reports had been maintained separately from the tenant files, and that some or all of the inspection reports may have been left behind during the move and subsequently destroyed.
10. Section 1-200(5), G.S., 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.
11. 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.
12. It is found that the records described in paragraph 3, above, are or were public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
13. It is also found that the respondent conducted a diligent search for the records described in paragraph 3, above.
14. It is found that the requested inspection reports from 2001 through 2003 were likely destroyed in 2005, that such destruction predated, and was unrelated to, the complainant’s 2006 request, and that the respondent has no reason to conceal the information that was contained in the inspection reports.
15. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent’s failure to provide the requested inspection reports from 2001 through 2003 did not violate the FOI Act.
16. It is also concluded, however, that the respondent’s failure to begin searching for the records until it received notice of this complaint from the Commission did violate the promptness requirement contained in §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. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the promptness requirement contained in §1-210(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of February 16, 2007.
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:
Richard H. Kosinski
106 Farmington Avenue, Suite 2B
New Britain, CT 06053
City of New Britain
c/o Christopher D. Grotz, Esq.
380 Newfield Street
Middletown, CT 06457
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission