FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Stephen Whitaker,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-316

Peter Tesei, First Selectman and

Police Commissioner, Town of

Greenwich; Board of Selectmen,

Town of Greenwich; Lloyd Hubbs,

Commissioner of Public Works,

Town of Greenwich; and Department

of Public Works, Town of Greenwich,

 
  Respondents January 14, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 15 and October 20, 2008, at which times the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  On November 3, 2008, the complainant moved to file post-hearing exhibits in this matter, and on November 5, 2008, the respondents filed an objection to such motion.  Such motion is hereby denied.   On November 21, 2008, the complainant moved to file additional post-hearing exhibits in this matter.  Such motion is hereby denied.

 

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 email dated March 25, 2008, the complainant made a request to the respondents for “[a]ll correspondence, notes, telephone messages and emails filed with or originating from any office of the Town or the Police Department, including any use of hosted email services such as hotmail, yahoo or gmail, which pertain to the use of the Minicipal [sic] plate ‘1GW’ and/or its possible improper use by any vehicle or person other than whom the town records show has official use of that plate.”

 

3.  It is found that, by email dated April 3, 2008, the complainant made another request “for access to and copies of public records” (the “April 3 email”).  Specifically, the complainant requested, in the April 3 email:

 

            (a)  “All correspondence, notes, telephone messages and email, including any use of hosted email services such as hotmail, yahoo or gmail, or others (i.e. RNC) [sic] Computer aided dispatch system entries, including complainant name, associated ANI-ALI/CLID info and telephone call recordings for calls logged into the CADD system, filed with or originating from any office of the Town or the Police Department or retired police officials, which pertain to ticketing, incident recording, tow warning stickering or actual towing of allegedly abandon [sic] automobiles in the last 24 months.  This request is for all records townwide, as contrasted to a prior request for only Steamboat Road records.”

 

(b)  “I additionally request any and all records over the PAST FIVE YEARS which pertain to policy and enforcement discussions or debates of the current practice and policy regarding towing, 24 hour parking limit enforcement and/or anonymous reporting of same.”

 

4.  It is found that, by email, dated April 8, 2008, the complainant further requested “access to the scheduled and completed highway maintenance records for all of Steamboat Road for the 2007 and 2008 calendar years.”

 

5.  By letter of complaint dated May 5, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with the requests described in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4, above.

 

6.  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 1-218, 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 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 . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with 1-212.

 

8.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “[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, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraphs 2, 3, and 4, above, such records are public records and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless they are exempt from disclosure. 

 

10.  With regard to the request described in paragraph 2, above, it is found that the complainant did not receive any records responsive to such request.  It is also found that the State of Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles issued a “1GW”  license plate to a private citizen, and a municipal “1GW” license plate to the town of Greenwich.

 

11.  It is found that, by email dated April 4, 2008 (the “April 4 email”), the respondents asked the complainant to clarify the request described in paragraph 2, above, stating “if you are requesting information from the Town concerning the Municipal license plate 1GW, we can send you any information the Town Fleet Department has concerning this Town vehicle;” but explaining, that, if the request is for records regarding the 1GW plate issued to a private citizen, that the town “would not normally have [such] records.”  It is also found that the respondents further stated in the April 4 email:  “Please let me know if you would like us to gather Fleet Department records for you concerning the 1GW Municipal license plate.  If you are seeking some other information or if I have misunderstood your request, please let me know so that the Town may respond appropriately.”

 

12.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant testified that he was requesting the records for the municipal 1GW license plate, and that the respondents had simply ignored his request for such records.  However, it is found that, after the complainant received the respondents’ April 4 email, the complainant did not attempt to clarify or follow-up on his request. 

           

13.  It is therefore concluded that, with regard to the request described in paragraph 2, above, the respondents did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., as alleged in the complaint.

 

14.  With regard to the request described in paragraph 3(a), above, it is found that the respondents do not maintain any correspondence, notes, telephone messages, or email responsive to such request.  However, it is further found that the respondents provided the complainant with all “computer aided dispatch system entries,” covering the entire town, pertaining to ticketing, incident recording, tow warning stickering or actual towing of allegedly abandoned automobiles, for the period April 4, 2006 through April 29, 2008.  It is found that such records are responsive to the request described in paragraph 3(a), above, and that the respondents provided such records to the complainant in two formats—electronic, on a CD, and traditional, printed on paper, consisting of approximately 700 double-sided pages.  However, it is also found that the respondents provided such records to the complainant on June 30, 2008, some three months after such request was made.

 

15.  It is found that the respondents offered no explanation, at the hearing in this matter, for the delay in providing such records to the complainant.

 

16.  It is therefore concluded that, with respect to the request for the computer aided dispatch system entry records, described in paragraph 3(a) and 14, above, the respondents violated the promptness provisions of the FOI Act.

 

17.  Also regarding the request in paragraph 3(a), above, it is found that the respondents failed to provide the complainant with any of the requested “telephone call recordings logged into the CADD system.”  Moreover, it is found that such telephone call recordings are maintained by the respondents only for 90 days, after which time such recordings are erased, or “over-written.”

 

18.  It is found that the requested telephone call recordings that existed at the time of such request, no longer exist.

 

19.  At the hearing in this matter, Mark Kordick, the police lieutenant who supervises the respondent police department’s IT division, testified, and it is found that, all calls to the police department are digitally recorded on several different channels and can be copied to a CD.  Lt. Kordick further testified that it would be “impractical” for him to copy to a CD all calls listed on the print-out, described in paragraph, 14, above, and provide them to the complainant, because of the large number of calls, and because it would require him to listen to all of the calls in order to redact confidential medical information, and confidential information related to juveniles.  On cross-examination, Lt. Kordick conceded, and it is found that, if he was given a specific date and time that a certain call came in, he could easily search for it, and copy it onto a CD.     

 

20.  It is found that, had the complainant been promptly provided with a copy of the computer aided dispatch system entry records, described in paragraph 14, above, the complainant could have identified the time and dates of specific telephone calls he wished to have copied to a CD.  However, it is further found that, because the respondents failed to promptly provide the complainant with such records, the respondents denied the complainant the right to access to, or a copy of, the requested telephone call recordings, to the extent they existed on the date of the request.

 

21.  It is therefore concluded that, with regard to the request for the telephone call recordings, the respondents violated the FOI Act as alleged in the complaint.

 

22.  With regard to the request described in paragraph 3(b), above, it is found that the respondents do not maintain any records responsive to such request.

 

23.  It is therefore concluded that, with regard to the request described in paragraph 3(b), above, the respondents did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), as alleged in the complaint.

 

24.  With regard to the request described in paragraph 4, above, it is found that the respondents do not maintain any records responsive to such request.

 

25.  It is therefore concluded that, with regard to the request described in paragraph 4, above, the respondents did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), 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 and disclosure provisions of the FOI Act.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 14, 2009.

 

 

 

________________________________

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:

 

Stephen Whitaker

15 East Putnam Avenue, Suite #311

Greenwich, CT 06830

 

Peter Tesei, First Selectman and

Police Commissioner, Town of

Greenwich; Board of Selectmen,

Town of Greenwich; Lloyd Hubbs,

Commissioner of Public Works,

Town of Greenwich; and Department

of Public Works, Town of Greenwich

c/o John Wayne Fox, Esq.

Law Department, Town of Greenwich

101 Field Point Road

PO Box 2540

Greenwich, CT 06836-2540

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-316/FD/paj/1/21/2009