FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2006-462|
Town of Cromwell,
|Respondent||May 9, 2007|
The above-captioned matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2006-441, Marvin Selsky v. Economic Development Commission, Town of Cromwell; Docket #FIC 2006-463, Marvin Selsky v. Town Planner, Town of Cromwell; Docket #FIC 2006-464, Marvin Selsky v. Chairman, Planning and Zoning Commission, Town of Cromwell; and Docket #FIC 2006-510, Marvin Selsky v. Water Pollution Control Agency, Town of Cromwell. All five consolidated matters were heard as contested cases on December 8, 2006, and February 15, 2007, at which times the complainant and the respondent in the above captioned matter appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. At the December 8, 2006 hearing, the hearing officer denied the complainant’s request that the Town Counsel be substituted as the named respondent in lieu of the First Selectman, Town of Cromwell. See conclusion of law at paragraph 14, below.
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)(A), G.S.
2. It is found that, by email dated August 15, 2006 and transmitted to four email addresses, the complainant made a request to the respondent for copies of fifteen categories of records concerning an application involving the “Laban property” and including relevant records of communications between various individuals (the “requested records” or the “records”). The complainant also attached records requests intended for four other public agencies, but noted that the requests were “being sent” to three of the other public agencies “separately” and were sent to the respondent “as information”. As to the fourth public agency, the complainant stated that he did not have the Town Counsel’s email address and asked that the respondent forward “the first section” of the request to the Town Counsel.
3. It is found that, by email dated August 15, 2006, the executive assistant to the respondent acknowledged the request, stating that the respondent was on vacation until August 21, 2006 and that his computer could not be accessed in his absence. By email also dated August 15, 2006, the executive assistant to the respondent forwarded the entire request to the Town Counsel.
4. It is found that, by email dated August 24, 2006, the respondent further acknowledged the complainant’s request, seeking a more precise clarification of the scope of the request and, among other matters, suggesting inspection in order to save the complainant copying costs.
5. It is found that, by letter dated August 30, 2006, the respondent stated that he had made copies of all records within the scope of the complainant’s request “that currently exist or would normally be retained in the files of the First Selectman’s office”, except that “[i]n the interest of economy”, correspondence from the Town Counsel would be made available for inspection. The respondent stated that the complainant could contact his executive assistant for copies of the records.
6. It is found that the complainant made either three or four visits to the respondent’s office starting on or about September 6, 2006.
7. By email dated Friday, September 8, 2006, 7:59 pm, and filed with the Commission on September 11, 2006, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by failing to provide the requested records.
8. It is found that, during the complainant’s last visit to the respondent’s office on September 13, 2006, the complainant paid $75.50 for copies of various records that he received. During his several visits to the respondent’s office, the complainant inspected a much larger group of records. He also received copies of a few more records on or about September 15, 2006.
9. Sections 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., state, respectively, in relevant parts:
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 person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.
10. It is found, as stated generally at paragraph 2, above, that the requests made to three other public agencies, the Economic Development Commission, the Town Planner, and the Planning and Zoning Commission, were made directly to the relevant agencies. See Docket #FIC 2006-441, Marvin Selsky v. Economic Development Commission, Town of Cromwell; Docket #FIC 2006-463, Marvin Selsky v. Town Planner, Town of Cromwell; and Docket #FIC 2006-464, Marvin Selsky v. Chairman, Planning and Zoning Commission, Town of Cromwell, all consolidated for hearing with this case.
11. It is further found that the complainant’s email dated August 15, 2006, which as stated at paragraph 3, above, the executive assistant forwarded to the town counsel, consisted, in the portion “directed toward” the Town Counsel, of a request for records (“Please send me the following ‘documentation’….), followed by a copy of an invoice from the Town Counsel to the Town (invoice #292815, dated July 14, 2006). The invoice of approximately two and a half pages included many items that did not even refer to records, such as: “[w]ork on road recycling issue”, “[c]onference with client regarding Town Planning & Zoning”, and “[r]espond to questions regarding zoning enforcement officer control”.
12. It is concluded that the requested records are “public records” within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-211(a), G.S. It is also concluded that the respondent performed a diligent search for the requested records maintained in his office and made them available to the complainant promptly.
13. It is concluded that the respondent did not have any further supervisory obligation concerning the records requests to the Economic Development Commission, the Town Planner or the Planning and Zoning Commission, because, as found in paragraphs 2 and 10, above, the requests were made directly to the relevant agencies. Docket #FIC 2005-367, Susan Friello v. Mayor, Town of East Haven; Docket #FIC 2005-431, Stephen Whitaker v. Jim Lash, First Selectman, Town of Greenwich; and Board of Selectman, Town of Greenwich. Moreover, the respondent did not have any further supervisory obligation concerning the communication that the complainant intended for the Town Counsel, because, as found at paragraphs 3 and 11, above, the respondent’s executive assistant forwarded the entire August 15, 2006 request for the records to the Town Counsel.
14. It is concluded that “the first section” of the request “directed toward” the Town Counsel is so vague that the scope of the request cannot be defined. The communication that the complainant intended for the Town Counsel therefore does not constitute a request for records. See paragraph 11, above.
15. Therefore, it is finally concluded that the respondent did not violate §§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. The complaint is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 9, 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:
Town of Cromwell
c/o John W. Bradley, Jr., Esq. and
Jonathan J. Blake, Esq.
Rome McGuigan, P.C.
One State Street
Hartford, CT 06103-3101
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission