FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Paul Garlasco,    
  Complainant  
  against   Docket # FIC 2009-583

Amy Allingham, Treasurer,

Town of Bridgewater; and

Town of Bridgewater,

 
  Respondents January 13, 2010
       

  

On October 20, 2009, the respondents in this matter filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, and assess a civil penalty against the complainant.  On December 7, 2009, the complainant submitted newspaper articles to the Commission in furtherance of his request in this matter for attorneys fees and fines against the First Selectman of Bridgewater. 

           

            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.  Section 1-206(b)(4), G.S., provides that:

 

[n]otwithstanding any provision of this subsection to the contrary, in the case of an appeal to the commission of a denial by a public agency, the commission may, upon motion of such agency, confirm the action of the agency and dismiss the appeal without a hearing if it finds, after examining the notice of appeal and construing all allegations most favorably to the appellant, that (A) the agency has not violated the Freedom of Information Act, or (B) the agency has committed a technical violation of the Freedom of Information Act that constitutes a harmless error that does not infringe the appellant’s rights under said act.

 

3.  The Commission takes administrative notice of the record and final decision in Docket #FIC 2008-609; Paul Garlasco v. Amy Allingham, Treasurer, Town of Bridgewater; and Town of Bridgewater (August 12, 2009) (hereinafter “Docket #FIC 2008-609”). 

 

4.  On October 5, 2009, the complainant filed with the Commission a notice of non-compliance with the order in Docket #FIC 2008-609, alleging that:

 

            a.  In Docket #FIC 2008-609, the Commission ordered William Stuart, the First Selectman of Bridgewater, to turn over all documents requested in the complainant’s request of August 28, 2008;

 

            b.  William Stuart has either refused or neglected to turn over copies of all cancelled checks for the requested period and copies of authorizations for disbursements;

 

            c.  Amy Allingham did provide investment reports in her possession but such records were devoid of the requested cancelled checks and authorizations; 

 

            d.  despite the order of the Commission, no check or authorization had been provided to the complainant;

 

            e.  the investment records disclosed that Mr. Stuart had written checks to local supermarkets, the local fuel company, and his “girlfriend.”    

 

5.  As remedy, the complainant requested the following:

           

            a. that Mr. Stuart be punished to the fullest extent of the law;

 

            b. that the Commission refer Mr. Stuart’s alleged “theft” to the Attorney General’s Office and the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office;

 

            c. that Mr. Stuart be ordered to comply with the Commission’s orders in Docket #FIC 2008-609;

 

            d. that the complainant be awarded attorney’s fees and costs;

 

            e. that Mr. Stuart be ordered to personally refund monies to the town of Bridgewater for allegedly “stolen” amounts and that Mr. Stuart be ordered to reimburse the town for all attorney’s fees involved in the underlying matters;

           

            f. that during the pendency of this matter, the complainant be allowed to engage in discovery pursuant to the civil practice book rules. 

           

6.  In Docket #FIC 2008-609, the Commission found, in pertinent part, that:

 

            a.  the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with copies of the bank statements and cancelled checks for the Burnham Fund for the last three years to the present, the Burnham trust document and/or will establishing the Burnham Fund (hereinafter “the fund”), and the authorizations for all disbursements in the last three years; 

 

            b. the respondents provided the complainant with a copy of the requested Burnham will; and

 

            c. the only other requested records which the respondents maintain are the bank statements related to the fund.   

 

                7.  In Docket #FIC 2008-609, the Commission reviewed the bank statements described in paragraph 6.c, above, in camera.  After such review, the Commission issued the following order:

 

            The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy of the requested records, with no redactions, free of charge. 

 

8.  After examining the complaint and pleadings in this matter and construing all allegations most favorably to the complainant, it is found that Mr. Stuart, the First Selectman of Bridgewater, who is referenced in the allegations described in paragraph 4.a, 4.b., and 4.e, and the remedies described in paragraph 5.a, 5.b., 5.c, and 5.e, above, was not a party in Docket #FIC 2008-609. 

 

9.  After examining the complaint and pleadings in this matter and construing all allegations most favorably to the complainant, it is found that the respondents fully complied with the order in Docket #FIC 2008-609.  It is again found that the respondents do not maintain the checks and authorizations described in paragraph 4.c and 4.d, above. 

 

10.  It is concluded that the respondents did not violate the Freedom of Information Act, as alleged in the complaint. 

 

11.  The Commission declines to consider the imposition of a civil penalty in this matter.

 

           

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

 

1.  The action of the respondents is confirmed, and the complaint is dismissed without a hearing pursuant to 1-206(b)(4)(A), G.S. 

 

2.  Although the Commission declined to consider the imposition of a civil penalty in this matter, the parties are advised that 1-206(b)(2), G.S., provides in relevant part that: “[i]f the commission finds that a person has taken an appeal under this subsection frivolously, without reasonable grounds and solely for the purpose of harassing the agency from which the appeal has been taken, after such person has been given an opportunity to be heard at a hearing conducted in accordance with sections 4-176e to 4-184, inclusive, the commission may, in its discretion, impose against that person a civil penalty of not less than twenty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars….” 

           

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 13, 2010.

 

____________________________

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:

 

Paul Garlasco 

83 Park Lane Road

New Milford, CT 06776

 

Amy Allingham, Treasurer,

Town of Bridgewater

C/o Scott M. Karsten, Esq.

Karsten Dorman & Tallberg, LLC

8 Lowell Road

West Hartford, CT 06119

 

 and

 

Town of Bridgewater

C/o Fred L. Baker, Esq.

24 Delay Street

Danbury, CT 06810

 

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2009-583FD/sw/1/19/2010