Final Decision FIC2011-279
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2011-279|
Hector R. Gonzalez, Director, Maynard Road
Corporation; Cornelius J. Ivers, President,
Maynard Road Corporation; Michael V. Cuccilli,
Vice-President, Maynard Road Corporation;
Scott T. Griffith, Treasurer, Maynard Road
Corporation; Robert Cappelletti, Secretary,
Maynard Road Corporation; and Maynard
February 22, 2012
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 17, 2011, at which time the complainant and the 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 May 31, 2011, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying her request for public records.
3. It is found that, by email sent May 13, 2011 to the respondent Cappelletti, the complainant requested the minutes of the respondent Maynard Road Corporation from October 6, 2006 to the date of her request. The complainant requested that the records be emailed to her.
4. It is found that the respondent Cappelletti was out of his office from the time the request was made until May 23, 2011, and that he does not have his email monitored while he is out of the office. He responded on the day he returned to the office by email to the complainant, indicating that the records were not stored electronically, and that it would take some time to locate the six years worth of minutes, but that the minutes would be available for the complainant’s review by Friday May 27, 2011 (the end of that week).
5. It is found that, although the minutes were ready to be inspected on Friday, May 27, 2011 when the complainant arrived to do so, the respondent Cappelletti had not obtained authorization to release them, and so the minutes were not made available to the complainant on that day.
6. It is found that the minutes were made available to the complainant on Thursday, June 3, 2011.
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, 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.
8. 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 (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 that “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.”
10. It is concluded that the requested minutes are public records within the meaning of §§1-205 and 1-210(a), G.S.
11. The complainant contends that the minutes were not provided to her promptly within the meaning of §1-210(a), G.S.
12. The meaning of the word “promptly” is a particularly fact-based question that has been previously addressed by the FOI Commission. In Advisory Opinion #51, In the Matter of a Request for Declaratory Ruling, Third Taxing District of the City of Norwalk, Applicant (Notice of Final Decision dated January 11, 1982) the Commission advised that the word “promptly” as used in §1-210(a), G.S., means quickly and without undue delay, taking into consideration all of the factors presented by a particular request. The Commission also gave the following guidance:
The Commission believes that timely access to public records by persons seeking them is a fundamental right conferred by the Freedom of Information Act. Providing such access is therefore as much a part of their mission as their other major functions. Although each agency must determine its own set of priorities in dealing with its responsibilities within its limited resources, providing access to public records should be considered as one such priority. Thus, it should take precedence over routine work that has no immediate or pressing deadline.
13. The advisory opinion goes on to describe some of the factors that should be considered in weighing a request for records against other priorities: the volume of records requested; the time and personnel required to comply with a request; the time by which the person requesting records needs them; the time constraints under which the agency must complete its other work; the importance of the records to the requester, if ascertainable; and the importance to the public of completing the other agency business without the loss of the personnel time involved in complying with the request.
14. It is found that a large number of documents were requested and provided for inspection.
15. It is found that the respondent Cappelletti did not have staff to compile the records for him.
16. It is found that, although the complainant had originally wanted the records in preparation for the respondent’s meeting of May 23, 2011, that date had already passed by the time the respondent Cappelletti learned of the request.
17. It is found that the largest portion of the delay, ten days, was caused by the respondent Cappelletti’s absence from his office, and the lack of staff to review his email.
18. It is found that, once begun, the actual retrieval of the records took four days.
19. It is found that approximately three business days of delay was due to the respondent Cappelletti’s belief that he needed authorization to release the documents.
20. It is concluded that, on balance, the requested records were provided promptly.
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 22, 2012.
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:
100 Edgehill Road
Meriden, CT 06451
Hector R. Gonzalez, Director, Maynard Road Corporation; Cornelius J. Ivers,
President, Maynard Road Corporation; Michael v. Cuccilli, Vice-President,
Maynard Road Corporation; Scott T. Griffith, Treasurer, Maynard Road
Corporation; Robert Cappelletti, Secretary, Maynard Road Corporation;
and Maynard Road Corporation
c/o Michael S. Wrona, Esq.
Halloran & Sage, LLP
225 Asylum Avenue
One Goodwin Square
Hartford, CT 06103
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission