FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
M. Peter Kuck,  
  Complainant  
  against    Docket #FIC 2008-360

Susan Mazzoccoli, Management Analyst,

State of Connecticut, Board of Firearms

Permit Examiners; and State of Connecticut,

Board of Firearms Permit Examiners,

 
  Respondents March 11, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard on October 31, 2008, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      It is found that, at all times relevant to this appeal, the complainant was a member of the respondent board.

 

3.      It is found that, by letter dated December 13, 2007 and addressed to the respondent board’s secretary, Mr. Corradino, the complainant requested a copy of the respondent board’s September 13, 2007 meeting minutes which allegedly included, as an attachment, notes written by the respondent, Susan Mazzoccoli (hereinafter “the notes”).

 

4.      It is found that in response to the complainant’s December 13, 2007 request, the respondents provided a copy of the respondent board’s September, October, and November 2007 meeting minutes, however, no notes were attached to the September meeting minutes. 

 

5.      It is found that by letter dated March 3, 2008 to Mr. Corradino, the complainant made another request for “the attachment to the September 13, 2007 meeting minutes” and that by letter dated March 18, 2008 to Mr. Corradino, the complainant reiterated the December 13, 2007 and the March 3, 2008 requests for “the attachment.”  It is found that no response was provided to either of the March letters.

 

6.      By letter dated May 17, 2008 and filed on May 20, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his records request.  The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty.

 

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

 

“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.

 

8.      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 . . . receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 

 

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

 

10.   It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

11.   It is found that the respondent board held a meeting on September 13, 2007 at which Ms. Mazzoccoli made certain comments to the board with respect to the complainant and his behavior as a member of the board.  It is also found that during her comments, Ms. Mazzoccoli had certain documents with her that contained her notes on the subject of her comments.

 

12.   It is found that minutes of the respondent board’s September 13, 2007 meeting were generated and proposed at the respondent board’s October 2007 meeting.  It is found, however, that the complainant challenged the accuracy of the proposed minutes because they did not include the comments made by Ms. Mazzoccoli and adoption of the minutes was tabled.

 

13.   It is found that at the respondent board’s November 2007 meeting, revised minutes of its September 13, 2007 meeting were adopted which now included a reference to Ms. Mazzoccoli’s comments.  It is also found, however, that directly after voting to adopt the minutes as prepared, the respondent board voted to correct the minutes by including the “written document read by Susan Mazzoccoli at the September meeting.”

 

14.     At the hearing on this matter, Ms. Mazzoccoli contended that she never attached the notes to the September 13, 2007 meeting minutes because she was never instructed to do so by the board and that it was her understanding that the September 13, 2007 meeting minutes that were prepared for the November 2007 meeting were satisfactory and no other revisions were required. 

 

15.   It is found, therefore, that the respondent board’s September 13, 2007 meeting minutes never included Ms. Mazzoccoli’s notes or any other attachment.  

 

16.   It is found that after receiving a May 8, 2008 letter addressed directly to her, in which letter the notes were specifically requested, Ms. Mazzoccoli provided the complainant with a copy of the notes by letter dated May 13, 2008.

 

17.   At the hearing on this matter the complainant contended that Ms. Mazzoccoli, as the executive head of the respondent board’s offices, should have forwarded the notes in response to the December 13, 2007 request and that having not done so, the respondents are in violation of the FOI Act for failing to promptly comply with his records request.

 

18.   At the hearing in this matter, Ms. Mazzoccoli contended that pursuant to board operation and procedure, she only responds to correspondence addressed directly to a board member when instructed to do so by that member or the board and that since neither instructed her to respond, it would have been inappropriate for her to have done so.  

 

19.   With respect to the complainant’s December 13, 2007 and his March 3 and 18, 2007 requests, it is found that the record as requested in those letters does not exist and therefore, the respondent did not violate the disclosure provisions of the FOI Act.

 

20.   It is found, however, that while there is technically no violation of the FOI Act, the game of “cat and mouse” played by the respondents in this case is not in keeping with the spirit and intent of the disclosure provisions of the Act because while it is clear that there never was an attachment to the September 13, 2007 meeting minutes of the respondent board, the respondents could have readily discerned that the complainant was seeking a copy of Ms. Mazzoccoli’s notes and provided those records pursuant to the complainant’s December 13, 2007 request. 

 

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.

 

2.      The Commission notes that this matter could have easily been resolved at an earlier date, if both parties had been willing to communicate in a more timely and reasonable manner.  The Commission therefore strongly encourages both parties to work toward resolution of any similar future disputes at a much earlier juncture and to thereby avoid the waste of valuable state time and resources. 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 11, 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:

 

M. Peter Kuck

c/o Rachel M. Baird, Esq.

379 Prospect Street

Torrington, CT 06790-5239

 

Susan Mazzoccoli, Management Analyst,

State of Connecticut, Board of Firearms

Permit Examiners; and State of Connecticut,

Board of Firearms Permit Examiners

c/o Matthew B. Beizer, Esq.

Assistant Attoney General

110 Sherman Street

Hartford, CT 06105

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2008-360FD/paj/3/13/2009