FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Michael McMullen,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-519

Mayor, Town of Vernon; and Chief,

Police Department, Town of Vernon,

 
  Respondents May 9, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 23, 2007, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  It is found that, by letters dated September 17, 2006, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with a copy of the following records, which shall hereinafter be referenced as “the requested records”:

 

a.  “ any and all documentation including but not limited to email, memos, correspondence received by or generated by you regarding the retirement of Chief Rudolf Rossmy”; and

 

b.  “any and all documents including but not limited to email, memos, correspondence received by or generated by you or your office regarding any conditional offers of employment made for the position of Police Captain and/or Police Chief.”

 

3.  It is found that the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request by email dated September 22, 2006.

 

4. It is found that by letter dated September 25, 2006, the respondent Chief of Police, Rudolf Rossmy, contended that the documents responsive to the request, as described in paragraph 2, above, are exempt by virtue of 1-213(b)(2), G.S.

5. By letter of complaint dated September 26, 2006, and filed on October 2, 2006, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying the complainant’s request for the requested records.

6.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

“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 … whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

                                                                 

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

 

[e]xcept 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….

 

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

 

9.  It is found that the respondents maintain the requested records and that such records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

 

10.  At the time of the hearing in this matter, the respondents had provided the complainant with the requested records.  The complainant contended, however, that the records had not been provided promptly.

 

            11.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant also objected to the redaction of the one particular record that the respondents had provided to him - a memorandum dated September 6, 2006.  The memorandum was from the Chief of Police and addressed to all employees of the Vernon Police Department.  The respondents claim that the name of the applicant for the subject position was appropriately redacted from the memorandum provided to the complainant pursuant to 1-213(b)(2), G.S.  The respondents maintain that the requested records at issue are records of a personnel search committee that would reveal the identity of the executive level employment candidate and therefore are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-213(b)(2), G.S.

 

12.  It is found that the complainant was not provided with the requested records promptly, as required under 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

            13.  Section 1-213(b)(2), G.S., provides:

 

Nothing in [the FOI Act] shall be deemed in any manner to require disclosure of any record of a personnel search committee which, because of name or other identifying information, would reveal the identity of an executive level employment candidate without the consent of such candidate.

14.  Section 1-200(7), G.S., provides:

“Personnel search committee” means a body appointed by a public agency, whose sole purpose is to recommend to the appointing agency a candidate or candidates for an executive-level employment position.  Members of a “personnel search committee” shall not be considered in determining whether there is a quorum of the appointing or any other public agency.

 

            15.  It is also found that the respondents failed to present evidence and, therefore, failed to prove that the requested records were records of a personnel search committee or that the respondents were members of a search committee.

 

            16.  It is further found that the requested records, including the memorandum dated September 6, 2006, are not records of a personnel search committee within the meaning of 1-213(b)(2), G.S.

 

17.  It is therefore concluded that the requested records are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-213(b)(2), G.S., and that the respondents violated 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide a copy of the requested records to the complainant, as alleged in the complaint.

 

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

 

1.  Henceforth the respondents 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 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:

 

Michael McMullen

6 Applewood Circle

Easthampton, MA 01027

 

Mayor, Town of Vernon; and Chief,

Police Department, Town of Vernon

c/o Martin B. Burke, Esq.

130 Union Street

PO Box 388

Rockville, CT 06066

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2006-519FD/paj/5/16/2007