FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
John Thomas Barney,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-554

First Selectman, Town of Simsbury;

and Town of Simsbury,  

  Respondents August 11, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 23, 2010, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, the matter was consolidated with the following seven cases: Docket #FIC 2009-555; John Thomas Barney v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; Docket #FIC 2009-608; John Thomas Barney v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; Docket #FIC 2009-660; John Thomas Barney v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; Docket #FIC 2009-661; John Thomas Barney v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; Docket #FIC 2009-556; Patrick Vincent McCue v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; Docket #FIC 2009-606; Patrick Vincent McCue v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; and Docket #FIC 2009-662; Patrick Vincent McCue v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury.

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 31, 2009, the complainant made a request to the respondents for copies of the following records:

 

copies of any and all agreements, contracts and documents the Town has that prove, verify, support, etc. the Town’s position and records that name – ‘MCCUE PATRICK VINCENT AND/OR CHRISTINA EDITH’ – is in fact the owner of 69 Laurel Lane [sic].

 

(Emphasis in original).

3.  It is found that, by letter dated September 3, 2009, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request for records, and informed him that they were reviewing their records and would notify him if they identified any records responsive to the request. 

 

4.  By letter of complaint dated September 15, 2009 and filed September 21, 2009, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to respond to his request for records. 

 

5.  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.

 

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

 

7.  Section 1-212(a)(1), 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.

 

8.  It is found that, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraph 2, above, the records are “public records” and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless they are exempt from disclosure.

 

9. With respect to the records requested by the complainant as described in paragraph 2, above, it is found that such request requires the respondents to exercise discretion in determining what records “prove, verify, [or] support” that two particular individuals, whose names are spelled in a particular format, are the legal owners of a parcel of real property, or that the Respondent Town had legal authority to list the names in the format identified in paragraph 2, above.  It is concluded that the FOI Act does not require that a public agency exercise such discretion in responding to freedom of information requests.  See Wildin v. Freedom of Information Commission, 56 Conn. App. 683, 746 A.2d 175 (1999) (analysis is a component of research). 

 

10. Nevertheless, it is found that the respondents testified that they have no records, other than the Real Estate Tax Bill for 2009 and Assessor’s Field Card, which are already in the possession of the complainant, that list the names in the order and the form indicated in paragraph 2, above.   

 

11. Based upon the foregoing, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of the FOI Act.

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

1.  The complaint is dismissed.

 



Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 11, 2010.

 

 

__________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

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:

 

John Thomas Barney

P.O. Box 34

Tariffville, CT  06081

 

First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and

Town of Simsbury

c/o Robert M. DeCrescenzo, Esq.

Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, PC

P.O. Box 231277

One State Street

Hartford, CT  06123-1277

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2009-554FD/cac/8/16/2010