The following facts are necessary to our resolution of this appeal. In January, 1994, the complainants, Cindy Oulette and the Taxpayers Association of Norwich, requested copies of charters, by-laws, policies and procedures and names and addresses of current members of the five Norwich volunteer fire departments. After the plaintiffs denied the complainants access to copies of the requested documents, the complainants appealed to the commission. On October 12, 1994, the commission found that the fire departments were public agencies under General Statutes (Rev. to 1993) § 1-18a (a)
On September 9, 1996, the complainant Oulette, contending that the plaintiffs failed to comply with the order, filed a second complaint with the commission. Oulette also requested that the commission impose civil penalties on the plaintiffs. The commission held a hearing on October 15, 1996, in which it concluded that the plaintiffs had failed to produce the requested documents pursuant to its order. The plaintiffs, at the hearing, argued that the recently enacted P.A. 96-83, which amended General Statutes (Rev. to 1995) § 7-314 (b),
"Judicial review of an administrative agency's action is governed by the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act (UAPA), General Statutes § 4-166 et seq., and the scope of that review is limited.... When reviewing the trial court's decision, we seek to determine whether it comports with the [UAPA].... We look to see if the [trial] court reviewing the administrative agency acted unreasonably, illegally, or in abuse of discretion." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Dortenzio v. Freedom of Information Commission, 48 Conn.App. 424, 430, 710 A.2d 801 (1998).
"Conclusions of law reached by the administrative agency must stand if ... they resulted from a correct application of the law to the facts found and could reasonably and logically follow from such facts.... The court's ultimate duty is only to decide whether, in light of the evidence, the [agency] has acted unreasonably, arbitrarily, illegally, or in abuse of [its] discretion.... Neither we, nor the trial court, may retry the case
The plaintiffs first claim that the Superior Court improperly determined that the commission did not abuse its discretion in concluding that General Statutes (Rev. to 1995) § 7-314 (b), as amended by P.A. 96-83, required the plaintiffs to disclose the requested documents. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that the Superior Court should have concluded that the commission should have examined the legislative history of § 7-314 (b), in addition to examining its plain language, to determine that the plaintiffs were not required to disclose the requested documents because the documents concerned "fraternal or social matters." We disagree.
"A fundamental tenet of statutory construction is that statutes are to be considered to give effect to the apparent intention of the lawmaking body.... When the words of a statute are clear and unambiguous, we assume that the words themselves express the legislature's intent and there is no need to look further for interpretive guidance.... Where there is ambiguity in the statute, however, we ascertain the actual intent by looking to the language of the statute itself, its legislative history, the circumstances surrounding its enactment and its purpose.... The words of a statute must be interpreted according to their ordinary meaning unless their context dictates otherwise." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Bridgeport Firefighters Assn., IAFF, Local 834 v. Bridgeport, 48 Conn.App. 667, 670, 711 A.2d 1188, cert. denied, 245 Conn. 918, 717 A.2d 236 (1998).
The plaintiffs' second claim is that the Superior Court improperly failed to determine that the commission abused its discretion in concluding that, even if P.A. 96-83 exempted the requested documents from disclosure, that act was not intended to apply retroactively. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that the Superior Court should have determined that the commission failed to examine
The plaintiffs' final claim is that the Superior Court improperly failed to conclude that the fines imposed by the commission were unreasonable and violated public policy. Specifically, the plaintiffs contend that the Superior Court should have determined that the commission abused its discretion by imposing fines for the plaintiffs' failure to comply with its order. We disagree.
General Statutes (Rev. to 1995) § 1-21i (b) (2), now § 1-206 (b) (2), provides in relevant part: "[U]pon the finding that a denial of any right created by sections 1-15, 1-18a, 1-19 to 1-19b, inclusive, and 1-21 to 1-21k, inclusive, was without reasonable grounds ... the commission may, in its discretion, impose against the custodian or other official a civil penalty of not less than twenty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars...." The commission concluded that the plaintiffs unreasonably relied on P.A. 96-83 to not disclose the records and imposed a $750 fine on each plaintiff. We conclude that the commission reasonably could have determined that the plaintiffs' reliance on P.A. 96-83 was an unreasonable ground for failing to disclose the records as ordered. As discussed previously, P.A. 96-83 clearly did not exempt the requested records from disclosure. Accordingly, we conclude that the commission's imposition of fines is supported by the record.
The judgment is affirmed.
In this opinion SPEAR, J., concurred.
Nothing in the record indicates that the plaintiffs have taken serious efforts to insulate their addresses from the public domain. Indeed, the plaintiffs, in their briefs, claim only that they "objected strenuously to the release of their names and home addresses" to the complainant. Accordingly, we conclude that the commission properly ordered the plaintiffs to release their names and addresses to the complainants.