In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Alex Wood and the Journal Inquirer,




against Docket #FIC 86-241


Eighth Utilities District of Manchester and President, Eighth Utilities District of Manchester,


Respondents December 10 , 1986


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 29, 1986, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.


After consideration of the entire matter, the following facts are found:


1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. At some date prior to August 18, 1986 the respondent district hired the advertising and public relations firm of Ted Adams, Inc. to raise public awareness regarding the respondent district. To accomplish this goal Ted Adams, Inc. created an "awareness and opinion survey" which it administered to Manchester residents who did not live within the respondent district.


3. By letter dated August 20, 1986 the complainants made a request of the respondent president for a copy of all questions being used by Ted Adams, Inc. in its poll of Manchester residents.


4. By letter dated August 25, 1986 the respondent president stated that the information sought by the complainants was "not a public record or file as defined in the Freedom of Information Act."


Docket #FIC 86-241 Page Two


5. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on August 28, 1986 the complainants appealed the respondents' failure to provide the requested records. The complainants requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent president pursuant to 1-21i(b), G.S.


6. It is found that at the time of the complainants' request the respondents did not have in their possession a copy of the questions used in the Manchester survey. The questions were drafted and the survey conducted exclusively by employees of Ted Adams, Inc. and no copy of the questions, as of August 20, 1986, had been provided to the complainants.


7. It is found that at an August 15, 1986 meeting of the board of directors of the respondent district Gary Adams, for the first time, presented the respondent president with the questions used in the Manchester survey. Copies of the questions were immediately made available for public inspection.


8. It is found that at the time of the complainants' request the survey questions were not prepared, owned, used, received or retained by the respondents within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.


9. It is concluded that the failure of the respondents to provide the complainants with a copy of the survey questions prior to August 15, 1986 did not violate 1-15 or 1-19(a), G.S.


The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.


1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of December 10, 1986.


Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission