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Final Decision FIC2015-466
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
John Rutka,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2015-466
Mayor, City of Meriden; City Manager,
City of Meriden; City Council,
City of Meriden; and City of Meriden
     Respondents
February 10, 2016

     The above-captioned matter was heard as contested case on November 10, 2015, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared 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)(A), G.S.
     2.  It is found that, by letter dated July 20, 2015, the complainant made a request to the respondents for access to all records in four categories:  (a) records documenting each step of the foreclosure proceedings used to attain title of 22 South Third Street; (b) records documenting the method of advertising the sale of 22 South Third Street, including the dates and the names of the newspapers used; (c) records given to Council members by respondent City Manager L. Kensior concerning his statement at the July 6, 2015 meeting of the respondent City Council concerning the complainant’s code violations on his property; and (d) the court and date when the complainant was found guilty of code violations (altogether the “requested records”).
     3.  It is found that, by letter dated July 21, 2015, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request.  By further letter dated July 30, 2015, the respondents stated that they had identified sixty-nine pages that were responsive to the complainant’s request.  The July 30, 2015 letter also enclosed copies of two newspaper articles from 1998 that concerned the sale of the property at issue.  This July 30, 2015 letter was resent to the complainant on August 17, 2015, following his claim the previous day that he had not received the originally posted copy.
     4.  It is found that, by letter dated August 4, 2015 and filed with the Commission on August 6, 2015, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the failure of the respondents to provide access to requested records violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).
     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. (emphasis added)
     6.  Sections 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., state, respectively, in relevant parts:
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. 
Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record. 
     7.  It is concluded that the requested records are “public records” within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
     8.  Based on a review of the four categories of requested records at the November 10, 2015 hearing, it is found that the respondents do not maintain any records documenting the method of advertising the sale of 22 South Third Street (see request at paragraph 2(b), which took place in 1998, because the sale was conducted by Colony Real Estate and not by the respondent City.
     9.  Based on the review at the hearing, it is further found that no records were given to Council members by City Manager L. Kensior concerning his statement at the July 6, 2015 Council meeting concerning the complainant’s code violations on his property (see request at paragraph 2(c).
     10.  It is also found that, on August 27, 2015 the complainant reviewed the sixty- nine pages that were made available for inspection and that he received the copies he requested of two pages.  Subsequently, he requested and received copies of seven more pages.
     11.  Finally, it is found that the respondents were, in general, highly responsive to the complainant’s request for records, attempting in good faith to satisfy FOIA requirements, despite a long term, difficult underlying dispute.
     12.  It is concluded that the respondents provided the complainant with prompt access to all of the requested records that they maintained.
     13.  It is also concluded that the respondents did not violate §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
 
     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 February 10, 2016.
__________________________
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 Rutka
20 Sugarloaf Terrace
Middlefield, CT  06455
Mayor, City of Meriden; City Manager, City of Meriden;
City Council, City of Meriden; and City of Meriden
c/o Deborah L. Moore, Esq.
Office of the Corporation Counsel
142 East Main Street
Suite 240
Meriden, CT  06450
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC/2015-466/FD/cac/2/10/2016