FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Russell K. Elam,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-425
Town Clerk, Town of Killingly,  
  Respondent January 14, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 6, 2008, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  It is found that, by letter dated May 2, 2008, the complainant made a request to the respondent for access to the following records:

 

(a)    “All documents created from January 1, 1950 until the present, relating to any resolution to discontinue roads in Town, which refer to Sprague Street and/or Shumway Street or Shumway Avenue (the “Streets”), including, without limitation, any such resolutions, whether in draft form, final form, issued or enacted;”

 

(b)   “All documents created from January 1, 1950 until the present, relating to the status of the Streets as public or private;”

 

(c)    “All correspondence from January 1, 1950 until the present, by and between the Town Manager and any other person relating to the status of the Streets as public or private;”

 

(d)   “All correspondence from January 1, 1950 until the present, by and between the Town Engineer and any other person, relating to the status of the Streets as public or private;”

 

(e)    “All correspondence from January 1, 1950 until the present, by and between the Highway Foreman for the Town and any other person, relating to the status of the Streets as public or private;”

 

(f)    “All correspondence from January 1, 1950 until the present, by and between the Director of Planning and Development for the Town and any other person, relating to the status of the Streets as public or private;”

 

(g)   “All correspondence from January 1, 1950 until the present, by and between the Town Attorney and any other person, relating to the status of the Streets as public or private;”

 

(h)   “All documents created from January 1, 1950 until the present relating to discontinuation of the Streets;”

 

(i)     “All documents created from January 1, 1950, until the present relating to abandonment of the Streets;”

 

(j)     “All documents relating to the assessment of property tax on the Streets from January 1, 1950 until the present;”

 

(k)   “All documents relating to Colonial Baptist Church from 2000 until the present;”

 

(l)     “All documents, relating to any dispute or litigation involving the Town since 1950, concerning the status as public or private of any road located with the Town;”

 

(m)  “All documents relating to the Town’s receipt of state assistance for locally maintained public roads, from 1949 until 1966, including, without limitation, lists of miles of locally maintained public roads.”

 

3.  It is found that, by letter dated May 7, 2008, the respondent acknowledged the complainant’s request for access to the records described in paragraph 2, above (the “May 7 letter”).  It is further found that the respondent explained in the May 7 letter that, because the request involves a “substantial amount of information” over a “long period of time,” all of the requested information would not be available immediately.  However, it is also found that the respondent further indicated in the May 7 letter that:  “I stand ready, willing and able to meet with you and to ensure your right to inspect the existing Town files which we are able to identify.  I have also copied all of the departments which I consider relevant to your request to ask them to attempt to identify any files that may be relevant to your request.  I would be happy to meet with you at your convenience and would either attempt to serve as a clearing house for your department-by-department search, or if you wish, you can deal with the departments independently….”  

 

4.  It is found that, on May 12, 13, 22 and 28, 2008, the respondent made records responsive to the request described in paragraph 2, above, available to the complainant, and that, on such dates, the complainant inspected such records at the town hall. 

 

5.  By letter of complainant dated June 18, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by failing to fully comply with the request described in paragraph 2, 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 section 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 section 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 respondent maintains the records described in paragraph 2, 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.  It is found that, with regard to the requests described in paragraphs 2(b) through 2(j) and 2(l), the respondent provided the complainant with all records responsive to such requests dating back to 1987.

 

11.  It is found that, with regard to the request described in paragraph 2(a), above, the respondent provided the complainant with access to all records responsive to such request that were maintained in the office of the town engineer.  It is found that, on May 13, 2008, when the complainant spoke with the town engineer about the request described in paragraph 2(a), above, the town engineer told the complainant that he had not yet searched “the archives” for records responsive to such request.

 

            12.  It is found that, with regard to the request described in paragraph 2(k), above, the respondent provided the complainant with all records responsive to such request.

 

            13.  With regard to the request described in paragraph 2(m), above, it is found that the respondent provided the complainant with all records responsive to such request for certain years, but not others.

 

            14.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant stated his belief that there are additional records that the respondent has not disclosed to him.  He further stated that his belief is based on his conversation with the town engineer, described in paragraph 11, above. 

 

            15.  However, it is found that, between May 13, 2008 and May 28, 2008, all computers, including emails, documents, and draft documents were searched, and all filing cabinets, storage areas and boxes were searched, and that all responsive records were provided to the complainant.  It is found that, if certain records, described in paragraph 2, above, were not provided to the complainant, it is because they are not maintained by the respondent.  Moreover, it is found that, on May 28, 2008, when the complainant visited the town hall for the last time, a staff member explained to the complainant that a complete and thorough search of all areas of all departments had been conducted, and that all responsive records have been provided to him. 

 

16.  Based upon the foregoing, it is concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act 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.  The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

 

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

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

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:

 

Russell K. Elam

63 Philip Lane

Dayville, CT 06241

 

Town Clerk, Town of Killingly

c/o Kathleen M. Cerrone, Esq.

St. Onge & Brouillard

Attorneys At Law

Fifty Route 71

Woodstock, CT 06281

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-425FD/sw/1/22/2009