City of Meriden refuses to release letter of discipline issued to city attorney

City of Meriden refuses to release letter of discipline issued to city attorney



MERIDEN — The city is refusing to release a letter of discipline issued to City Attorney Deborah Moore, claiming its release may constitute an invasion of personal privacy.

Moore did not return a request for comment.

Moore was issued a letter of discipline earlier this year for reasons city officials have declined to discuss. The Record-Journal requested the letter through the state Freedom of Information Act, along with all letters of discipline issued to city employees since January. On Aug. 4, the city provided access to over two dozen disciplinary letters that the city did not determine to be exempt under the Freedom of Information Act. Moore’s letter of discipline was withheld, but the city provided a memo in which Moore raised an objection to the release of the letter and an email requesting it be stricken from her file.

“Respectfully, I will renew my request that the document be removed in its entirety from my file as I believe that request was taken under advisement when this matter first arose and I haven’t received a decision,” Moore wrote in a July 19 email.

The city cited the Perkins test as reason for withholding the document. The Perkins test is the result a 1993 Connecticut Supreme Court case, Perkins v. Freedom of Information Commission, in which it was determined a personnel document can be exempt from disclosure if it is deemed to be both “highly offensive to a reasonable person” and doesn’t pertain to a legitimate matter of public concern, according to state FOI law. Tom Hennick, public education officer from the Freedom of Information Commission, said documents must meet both criteria in order to be considered exempt.

“Perkins can always apply to something that’s in a personnel file, but if an agency truly believes that it rises to the level of invasion of privacy, then with any document it can raise the exemption,” Hennick said. “The problem is the invasion is two-pronged.”

City Manager Guy Scaife said the matter was “really a human resources and legal issue.”

“It’s the city’s opinion that there is proper reason to withhold those,” Scaife said. “We’re obligated to try and do what we think is right and that’s what the human resources director has done as an independent person” with no bias.

Human Resources Director Marci Nogueira did not return a request for comment on the subject. The Record-Journal has filed an appeal with the Freedom of Information Commission to obtain Moore’s disciplinary letter.

ltauss@record-journal.com
203-317-2231
Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ


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