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Final Decision FIC2013-646
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Daniel Pekera,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2013-646
Chairperson, Long Hill Fire Commission,
Long Hill Fire District; and Long Hill Fire
Commission, Long Hill Fire District,
     Respondents
August 13, 2014

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 8, 2014, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  Upon agreement of the parties, the caption of this matter has been amended to dismiss the Long Hill Fire Department and the Town of Trumbull and to add the proper custodians of the records at issue, the Long Hill Fire District Commission and the Long Hill Fire District, which is a taxing district that receives no funding from the Town of Trumbull.   The complaint is dismissed against both the Long Hill Fire Department and the Town of Trumbull (see Order, below).
     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, on August 21, 2013, the complainant requested copies of records pertaining to the building of a new fire station and the proposed bonding of $7 million.
     3.  It is found that, on September 9, 2013, the respondents provided the complainant with approximately 180 pages in response to his request.
     4.  It is found that, on October 11, 2013, the complainant made another request for additional records pertaining to the building of the new fire station and the proposed bonding.
     5.  It is found that, on October 24, 2013, the respondents provided the complainant with additional records in response to his request.
     6.  By letter filed October 15, 2013, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with all of the records he requested. 
     7.  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, …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:
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, … or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.
     9.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:  “Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
     10. It is concluded that the records requested by the complainant 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 complainant primarily seeks an explanation of the respondents’ authority to bond $7 million, acquire certain properties, and build a new firehouse.  It is found that in his first request, for instance, the complainant asked the respondent to “explain methodology/procedure/appraisal,” and to “explain how and when [the respondents] plan to rectify” a certain possible scenario.
     12. It is found that the respondents provided records to the complainant, and the parties frequently communicated about what the complainant was really seeking.  It is found that the respondents advised the complainant that the FOI Act does not require a public agency to perform research or to create documents or to answer questions, and the respondents suggested that the complainant attend one or more of their meetings.  It is found that the respondents offered to receive the complainant’s questions in advance of their meetings so that they would have the opportunity to consider his questions in order to have a more satisfying discussion at the meeting.
     13. It is found that to comply with the complainant’s request for specific types of records, such as e-mails, invoices, checks, budgets, and minutes, the respondents’ office manager searched paper files located in the respondents’ safe, in their office filing cabinet, and in storage.  It is found that the office manager also searched the office computer for electronic records.
     14. It is found that the respondents provided the complainant with all the records they maintain in response to the complainant’s requests.
     15. It is found that the respondents’ search was diligent and that the records were provided promptly.  It is also found that although the complainant accused the respondents of operating without transparency, the respondents’ correspondence to the complainant and their efforts to both comply with his requests, and to provide him with the information he sought, indicate the contrary.
     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 against all parties.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 13, 2014.
__________________________
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:
Daniel Pekera
701 Fairchild Road
Trumbull, CT  06611
Chairperson, Long Hill Fire Commission,  Long Hill Fire
District; and Long Hill Fire Commission, Long Hill Fire District
c/o Dennis J. Kokenos, Esq.
Owens, Schine & Nicola, P.C.
799 Silver Lane
Trumbull, CT  06611
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2013-646/FD/cac/8/13/2014