Town releases e-mail addresses at resident’s request

Published: Thursday, February 19, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

OLD SAYBROOK — A local man who requested a list of all the e-mail addresses that have been entered into the town Web site said he did so to make a point about the availability of government-related information.

Richard Goduti requested the e-mail addresses late last year, and the town posted a notice on its Web site last month saying it had released them. Goduti said he has not used the addresses and has no plans for them.

The town’s Web site has a section called “Subscribe to News” that allows people to enter their e-mail addresses in order to receive the minutes and agendas for boards and commissions.

“I don’t think it’s information that the town should have and not share,” Goduti said. “If it was available to the town, it should be available to anybody.”

Goduti added that, as a registered Democrat, he thought the addresses should be equally available to all political parties.

The addresses did not have names attached to them, Goduti said. He added that he has not counted the number of addresses, especially as there may be duplicates for the different boards and commissions.

Roland Laine, executive assistant for the selectmen’s office, said that he did not know how many addresses were released. He noted there were more than a dozen people on the list to receive agendas from the Board of Selectmen, and 30 to 40 people receiving the board’s minutes.

Laine said the town has had the e-mail option on its Web site for “at least three years.”

The town received a request for the addresses after Goduti contacted the state Freedom of Information Commission to see whether the information was public under the Freedom of Information Act, Laine said. He added that he spoke to an official at the commission before releasing the lists.

Laine said he had not previously considered whether the addresses would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The act states that “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 … or (3) receive a copy of such records.”

The town has not changed the input section of its Web site to explicitly inform residents that the names are public information, Laine said.

“I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s probably something we should do,” he said. He added that he had received one inquiry about the issue since informing people about it through the Web site.

Goduti said he was not sure why the town put a note on its Web site about his request.

“Any and all information is available through FOI, and it bothered me that they even bothered to put that up on the town Web site,” he said. “(That) basically is the reason that I wanted it to begin with. It keeps them clean, that’s all.”

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