FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Ethan Book, Jr.,
against Docket #FIC 1996-092
Connecticut Resources Recovery
Respondent(s) October 9, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 16, 1996, at which time the complainant and respondent appeared 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.
is found that by letter dated February 6, 1996 (“February request”), the
complainant requested that the respondent provide him with copies of the
a) those documents that certify or describe the bidding for the redevelopment of the
Greater Bridgeport Resources Recovery Project (“project”); and
b) each annual, quarterly, or other periodic report issued for dissemination to securities holders for the Municipal Service Fee Subordinate Lien Bonds (1987 Series A for the project initially issued around July 1987) (“reports”).
3. It is found that by letter dated February 9, 1996 (“February reply”), the respondent acknowledged receipt of the February request and advised the complainant that: a) to provide the project records it would have to conduct research which is not required by the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act, and b) the reports were available upon the prepayment of copying fees totaling $73.75.
4. It is found that by letter to the respondent dated March 29, 1996 (“March request”), the complainant questioned whether research was necessary in order to provide the requested project records, and “[w]ith respect to the availability of the [reports], [he] narrow[ed] and modif[ied] [his] request … to copies of the respondent’s annual reports [‘CRRA reports’] for the years 1983, 1987 and 1988.”
5. It is found that by letter dated April 2, 1996 (“April reply”), the respondent acknowledged receipt of the March request, and advised the complainant that the CRRA reports were available to him upon the prepayment of copying fees totaling $41.50.
6. It is found that by letter dated April 4, 1996 (“April letter”), the complainant enclosed payment in full for the CRRA reports.
7. It is found that under cover letter dated April 11, 1996 (“April compliance”), the respondent enclosed copies of the CRRA reports.
8. By letter of complaint dated April 18, 1996 and filed with the Commission on April 29, 1996 (“appeal”), the complainant alleged that the respondent failed to fully comply with his February request for reports. The complainant also requested an “administrative review” of whether the respondent’s February reply was “full and proper compliance with the [FOI] Act.”
9. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of §§1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G. S.
10. It is found that by letter to the Commission dated May 15, 1996, the respondent alleged: a) full and prompt compliance with the records requests, and b) that the Commission lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the complaint because the appeal relating to any failure to comply with the February request was filed eighty days after any alleged denial or failure to comply.
11. At the hearing on this matter, the respondent restated its grounds for seeking a motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and requested that the Commission find that the complainant filed a frivolous appeal.
12. The complainant argued that his March request, questioning the respondent’s refusal to provide the project records sought in his February request, served to renew that portion of his February request, and therefore the appeal is timely filed from the March request.
13. It is found that the complainant’s March request was intended to supplement the complainant’s February request as it relates to project records.
14. Therefore, it is found that the March request is sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon this Commission.
15. The respondent’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is hereby denied.
16. It is found that the complainant’s request concerning the project records is vague in that it does not refer to either specific documents or a particular time frame.
17. It is found that prior to its February reply the respondent : a) examined its files to determine if the requested project records were readily identifiable, but they were not without doing research; and b) contacted and consulted with its Director of Finance in order to identify and locate all the reports that the complainant asked for—but failed to pick-up when advised that the records were available to him.
18. It is found that the respondent has continually offered the complainant access to its files so that he can comb through the records that he believes may be responsive to his requests and conduct his own research.
19. It is found that the project information sought in paragraph 2a) of the findings, above, can only be obtained by research.
20. It is concluded that the FOI Act does not require the respondent, or any public agency, to conduct research on behalf of the complainant.
21. The Commission takes administrative notice of the pleadings, record, evidence and final decision in Docket #FIC 94-266, Ethan Book, Jr. v. State of Connecticut, Department of Transportation.
22. It is found that the complainant has continually failed and refused to make and/or keep appointments to review the respondent’s files.
23. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act by offering the complainant access to its files, rather than conducting research for him.
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 October 9, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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:
Ethan Book, Jr.
PO Box 1385
Fairfield, CT 06430
Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority
c/o Carl R. Nasto, Esq.
179 Allyn Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission