In 2019, an employee of the Avon police department met with the town manager and provided him a log of misconduct that the employee witnessed the chief of police, Mark Rinaldo, perpetrate on the job. The town manager gave a copy of the log to Avon's contract counsel, who, relying on the log, assisted the town in reaching an agreement to pay Rinaldo $115,000 in exchange for his immediate retirement. The town manager gave his copy of the log back to the employee and told them not to bring it to work again.
Local attorney J.R. Sastre made a public records request for all documents relating to Rinaldo's retirement agreement, and Avon told him that it had avoided writing down the reasons for Rinaldo's departure in any form. However, it acknowledged that it was withholding a copy of the misconduct log.
At the Freedom of Information Commission, the town of Avon argued the log was attorney-client privileged material and claimed that the misconduct log is not a public record, because it was the employee's "personal property." The town lost at the Commission and in a subsequent appeal to the Superior Court. A recent WNPR report estimates that Avon has spent more than $11,500 of taxpayer money -- $1,000 per page -- to continue preventing the public from seeing the log.
Avon has appealed the Superior Court's decision, and now the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut is stepping in to assist J.R. Sastre in challenging the town's attempts to keep public records secret.
People have a right to know what the government is doing in our names – especially when the government agency in question has handcuffs and guns. The ACLU Foundation of Connecticut is fighting for government transparency in this case.