FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Linda Palermo,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-610

Chief, Police Department,

Town of Stratford; Police

Department, Town of Stratford;

Traffic Authority, Town of

Stratford; and Town of Stratford,

 
  Respondents April 22, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 17, 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 by letter dated August 28, 2008, the complainant made a request to “review, inspect and make a copy thereof if necessary … of the traffic study of Success Avenue, which borders Stoneybrook Garden Cooperative, beginning at Broadbridge Avenue as mentioned in the minutes of the records of the Traffic Authority for July 2008.”

 

3.      By e-mail dated and filed on September 19, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with her records request or even to send her a letter indicating that her request had been received and that a search was being conducted for the records.

 

4.      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.

 

5.      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 . . . inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours [and] receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 

 

6.      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 . . . .”

 

7.      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.

 

8.      It is found that the complainant had a number of telephone conversations with a Lieutenant Celeste Robitaille of the respondent police department’s records division, during which the complainant was made aware that her request had been received and that a search was being conducted.  It is found, however, that the complainant wanted a letter to that effect.   

 

9.      It is concluded that nothing in the FOI Act requires the respondents to provide the complainant with a letter of the type described in paragraph 8, above.

 

10.   Nonetheless, it is found that by letter dated September 17, 2008, the respondents’ counsel informed the complainant that her request had been received, that a search for the record was underway and that the record would be provided after it was reviewed and determined that no exemption to disclosure would be claimed.

 

11.   It is found that the respondents maintain one record responsive to the complainant’s request which was located in the respondent town’s engineering department.

 

12.   It is found that by letter dated September 28, 2008, the respondents’ counsel provided the complainant with a copy of the record responsive to her request which is captioned “Nu-MetricsTraffic Analyzer Study Computer Generated Summary Report” which record the complainant conceded at the hearing on this matter is the document she requested.  It is found that the letter included a request that the complainant remit fifty cents for the copy.

 

13.   However, the complainant explained at the hearing on this matter that she requested to inspect the original record and that she wanted to do so at a particular office within the respondent department’s offices which office she contended is where the record should be maintained and not in the engineering department.

 

14.   At the hearing on this matter, the respondents agreed to allow the complainant to inspect the record at the respondent chief’s offices pursuant to her request but that the original from which the complainant’s copy was made would be brought from the engineering department to whichever office the complainant desired to inspect it.

 

15.   It is found that providing the complainant with a copy of the record was an effort to be accommodating and was not intended to deny the complainant’s right to inspect the original record. 

 

16.   It is concluded, however, that because the complainant specifically requested to inspect the records and to copy only if necessary, the respondents technically violated 1-210(a), G.S., by assessing a fee for the copy it provided.

 

17.   It is also concluded that the FOI Act does not require the respondents to keep and maintain the responsive record described in paragraph 12, above, in any particular office and that the complainant’s contention that the requested record should be maintained in any other office other than the engineering department will not be addressed by the Commission.

 

On the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint, no order is recommended by the Commission.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 22, 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:

 

Linda Palermo  

46 Vought Place

Stratford, CT 06614

 

Chief, Police Department,

Town of Stratford; Police

Department, Town of Stratford;

Traffic Authority Town of

Stratford; and Town of Stratford

C/o Bryan L. LeClerc, Esq.

Berchem, Moses and Devlin

75 Broad Street

Milford, CT 06460

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-610FD/sw/4/28/2009