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Final Decision FIC2015-007
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
James Brislin,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2015-007
Colleen Ann Reidy, Chairman,
Thompsonville Fire District,
Board of Commissioners; and
Thompsonville Fire District,
Board of Commissioners,
     Respondents
October 28, 2015

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 21, 2015, at which time the complainant and 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.  By letter of complaint filed January 7, 2015, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to promptly provide electronic records; by destroying public records; and by failing to waive fees for copying.
     3.  It is found that the complainant made a December 18, 2014 request to the respondents for copies of certain public records, and asking that any copying fees be waived on the ground of the complainant’s alleged indigence.
     4.  It is found that the respondents replied on December 18, 2014, indicating that some of the requested records were available on the respondents’ website, that others, possibly numbering in the thousands, would have to be copied, and requesting proof of the complainant’s alleged indigence to support his request for a fee waiver.
     5.  It is found that the complainant replied on December 22, 2014, that he was waiving “hard-copy paper production of the records in question and [would] instead accept production in an electronic format;” and that he wished to inspect the requested records first, and then to copy only the ones he selected.  The complainant also made representations concerning his income.
     6.  It is found that the respondents replied on December 28, 2014, indicating that certain records were available on the Thompsonville Fire District website, that other records would be located and assembled for the complainant, and that the respondents would let the complainant know when they were available so that he could inspect them.
     7.  It is found that the complainant responded on December 29, 2014, requesting the opportunity to inspect additional records.
     8.  It is found that the respondents continued to respond on January 3, and January 6, 2015 to the complainant’s requests, indicating which records existed, and that the respondents were in the process of developing an indigence policy.
     9.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records” as follows:
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.
     10. 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, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.  .
     11. 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.”
     12. It is concluded that the records requested by the complainant are, to the extent they exist, public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
     13. Section 1-206(b)((1), G.S., provides in relevant part:
Any person denied the right to inspect or copy records under section 1-210 or wrongfully denied the right to attend any meeting of a public agency or denied any other right conferred by the Freedom of Information Act may appeal therefrom to the Freedom of Information Commission, by filing a notice of appeal with said commission. 
     14. It is found that the requested records, to the extent they exist, have been made available for inspection by the complainant.
     15. It is also found that the complainant presented no evidence that the respondents had destroyed public records, as alleged.
     16. It is further found that the respondents had not, as of the time of the hearing, either developed an indigence policy, denied the complainant copies of any records that he had inspected, or charged the complainant for any copies of records, and that therefore the issue of the respondents’ indigence policy is not ripe for adjudication.

     17. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act with respect to the complainant’s 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 dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 28, 2015.

_______________________
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:
James Brislin
119 Industrial Drive, #602
East Longmeadow, MA  01028-0602
Colleen Ann Reidy, Chairman, Thompsonville Fire District,
Board of Commissioners; and Thompsonville Fire District,
Board of Commissioners
c/o Patrick J. McHale, Esq.
Kainen, Escalera and McHale, P.C.
21 Oak Street
Suite 601
Hartford, CT  06106
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2015-007/FD/cac/10/28/2015