FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 92-248
Mayor, City of Bridgeport,
Respondent March 24, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 2, 1993, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint filed July 29, 1992, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that his June 27, 1992 request for documents had been denied.
3. It is found that the complainant by letter dated June 27, 1992 requested from the respondent copies of the following documents:
a. "All letters, minutes of meetings, questionnaires to City departments, drafts of policies and any and all other information you as mayor and the Affirmative Action Officer, Alvin Penn have prepared or been responsible for preparing in connection with the implementation of an Affirmative Action Policy for the City of Bridgeport since December 1, 1992."
b. "The city of Bridgeport's official job description and/or specific work functions of the Affirmative Action Officer's position."
c. "Listing of minority contractors that have been compiled by the City's Affirmative Action Officer."
d. "Any and all findings regarding the City of Bridgeport's compliance with affirmative action measures issued to the City by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and any and all other Federal and State Agencies."
Docket #FIC 92-248 Page 2
e. "Total dollar value of all contracts issued by the City of Bridgeport during the fiscal years ended June 30, 1988 to June 30, 1991 and the eleven month period July 1, 1991 to May 31, 1992. For each of the years, along with the eleven month period ending May 31, 1992, please provide the dollar value of contracts and/or subcontracts that were awarded to companies owned by minority companies [sic]."
f. "Complete listing of all departments in the City of Bridgeport as of May 31, 1992, along with the name of each department head. Please indicate if any of these individuals are serving in an acting capacity."
g. "Complete listing of all boards and commissions of the City of Bridgeport, along with the chairperson and other members of each board and/or commission."
4. It is found that the respondent by letter dated June 30, 1992, indicated that he would comply with all Freedom of Information statutes.
5. It is found that the respondent additionally wrote to the complainant after the filing of this complaint, acknowledging the request.
6. It is found, however, that the complainant received no further communication from the respondent concerning his requests until December 3, 1992, when the city attorney's office forwarded documents responsive to paragraph 3.g, above.
7. Section 1-18a(d), G.S., provides:
"Public records or files" means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
8. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
[A]ll 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 inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provision of section 1-15. ...
Docket #FIC 92-248 Page 3
9. It is concluded that the documents referenced in paragraph 6, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
10. Section 1-15, G.S., provides in relevant part:
Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record. ...
11. It is concluded that the respondent, by not complying with the portion of the complainant's request described in paragraph 3.g, above, until nearly five months had passed, failed to provide copies of documents promptly upon request.
12. It is also concluded that the documents described in paragraph 3.f, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
13. It is found that the respondent never provided the complainant with copies of the records described in paragraph 3.f, above.
14. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide copies of public records.
15. With respect to the portion of the complainant's request described in paragraph 3.a, above, the respondent maintains that no questionnaires to City departments in connection with the implementation of an affirmative action policy for the city of Bridgeport exist.
16. The complainant maintains to the contrary that the existence of such questionnaires was published.
17. The commission finds the testimony of the complainant on this issue more credible than that of the respondent's witness.
18. It is found that the respondent did not begin any attempt to comply with the complainant's request until at least August, 1992.
19. It is also found that the respondent did not determine whether some documents existed that were responsive to the request until as late as January, 1993.
20. It is found that no documents other than those referenced in paragraphs 6, 12 and 15, above, exist that are responsive to the complainant's request.
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21. It is also found, however, that the respondent exhibited a lack of courtesy and understanding of the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act, by failing to take the simple step of keeping the complainant apprised of the fact that certain records simply did not exist or would not be compiled, and inviting the complainant to review any records from which he could compile the information he sought.
22. At the hearing, the complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondent.
23. Although the Commission in its discretion declines to impose such penalties, it advises the respondent that any future such extensive delays by the respondent in responding to the complainant's requests will not be met with such forebearance.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
2. The respondent shall forthwith conduct a diligent search for any documents meeting the description contained in paragraph 15 of the findings, above.
3. Within two weeks of the issuance of this final decision, the respondent shall submit to the Commission and to the complainant an affidavit that sets forth in detail any and all steps taken by the respondent to locate any documents meeting the description contained in paragraph 15 of the findings, above. At a minimum, such affidavit shall identify all persons conducting such a search, the length of time each person searched, the departments, files and locations searched, all documents reviewed in connection with such search, whether or not responsive to the description contained in paragraph 15 of the findings, above, and any persons queried in connection with the search. If no documents are located, the affidavit shall additionally set forth that fact.
4. Within two weeks of the issuance of this final decision, the respondent shall provide to the complainant any documents meeting the description contained in paragraph 15 of the findings, above.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 24, 1993.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
45 Pinepoint Drive
Bridgeport, CT 06606
Mayor, City of Bridgeport
c/o Atty. John Barton
Office of City Attorney
202 State Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission