FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Docket #FIC 1996-555
July 23, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by Wilbur D. Troutman, Complainant
Kenneth G. Schultz, Director, Program Management, Imagineers, LLC; and Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Social Services, Section 8 Housing Program, Respondents
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 25, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Social Services, (the "respondent Department") is a public agency within the meaning of § 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letters dated September 26, 1996 and October 1, 1996, the complainant requested copies of records from Program Management Imagineers, LLC ("Imagineers"), which records relate to the following:
a. an accounting for rental payments to Andrew Gorski, a landlord;
b. the amount and other particulars of each monthly rental payment made on behalf of Linda Vasquez, a tenant;
c. findings of the respondent Imagineers regarding inappropriate use of the residence at 661 Broadview Terrace (the "residence"); and
d. records concerning the complainants request that David DuVerger be charged with larceny for false claims for Section 8 benefits.
3. By letter dated October 2, 1996, the respondent Kenneth G. Schultz, as Director of Imagineers ("Schultz"):
a. provided the complainant with information concerning the amount of total rent for the residence, in partial response to the request described at paragraph 2a, above; and also declined to provide records concerning the level of rental assistance, in further response to the request described at paragraph 2a, above;
b. declined to provide records concerning the amount of rent paid on behalf of Linda Vasquez, in response to the request described at paragraph 2b, above;
c. provided the complainant with the results of two recent inspections of the residence, in response to the request described at paragraph 2c, above; and
d. did not respond to the request for records concerning the complainants request that David DuVerger be charged with larceny, as described at paragraph 2d, above.
4. By letter dated October 20, 1996, and filed on October 22, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide copies of records with the information described at paragraph 2, above, except as partially provided as described at paragraphs 3a and c, above.
5. At the hearing on this matter, the issue was raised as to whether the respondent Schultz as an official of Imagineers is a public agency for purposes of § 1-18a(a), G.S.
6. The test for determining whether an individual such as the respondent Schultz is a public agency for purposes of § 1-18a(a), G.S., is one of functional equivalence, as outlined by the Supreme Court in Board of Trustees of Woodstock Academy, et al. v. Freedom of Information Commission, et al., 181 Conn. 544 (1980), and consists of the following four criteria: 1) whether the entity performs a governmental function; 2) the level of government funding; 3) the extent of government involvement or regulation; and 4) whether the entity was created by the government.
7. Based upon Connecticut Humane Society v. Freedom of Information Commission, 218 Conn. 757 (1991), all four factors in Woodstock, above, are not necessary for a finding of functional equivalence, but rather "all relevant factors are to be considered cumulatively, with no single factor being essential or conclusive."
8. It is found that the Imagineers is performing a governmental function in the operation of a Section 8 housing program for the City of Hartford, State of Connecticut and the United States of America.
9. It is also found that the Section 8 housing program operated by Imagineers is substantially funded by the federal government.
10. It is further found that the Section 8 housing program operated by Imagineers is substantially regulated by the federal, state and municipal governments.
11. It is further found that Imagineers is a private corporation, which was not created by any government.
12. It is therefore concluded that, with respect to its operation of the Section 8 housing program, Imagineers is a public agency within the meaning of § 1-18a(a), G.S., as is the respondent Schultz in his capacity as program director.
13. The respondent Schultz contends, in part, that some of the requested records are exempt from disclosure by virtue of federal law and state statute.
14. Section 1-19(a), G.S., states in pertinent part:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute,all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency shall be public records and every person shall have the right to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15." [emphasis added]
15. It is concluded that § 17-83(b), G.S., provides for the confidentiality of financial information concerning persons receiving assistance from the respondent Department or participating in a program administered by the respondent Department, and that therefore, the records described at paragraphs 2a and 2b are exempt from mandatory disclosure.
16. It is also concluded, however, that no exemption was claimed with reference to the records described at paragraph 2d, above, and that such records are subject to mandatory public disclosure pursuant to the provisions of § 1-19a, G.S.
17. Based upon the request of the complainant, an in camera review of the records described in paragraph 2, above, was performed by the Commission, including the addition of a numerical listing to the index and to the documents submitted for in camera review.
18. It is found, based upon the in camera review, that the documents numbered 1996-555-1, 1996-555-2, 1996-555-6, 1996-555-21, 1996-555-22, 1996-555-23, 1996-555-24, 1996-555-26, 1996-555-29, 1996-555-31, 1996-555-32, 1996-555-34, 1996-555-35, 1996-555-36, 1996-555-37, and 1996-555-54 are records described at paragraph 2d, above, which as concluded at paragraph 16, above, are subject to mandatory public disclosure.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent Schultz shall forthwith provide to the complainant a copy of the records identified at paragraph 18 of the findings, above.
2. The complaint against the respondent Department is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 23, 1997.
Doris V. Luetjen
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:
Wilbur D. Troutman
666 Broadview Terrace
Hartford, CT 06106
Kenneth G. Schultz, Director, Program Management, Imagineers,
c/o Lisa Silvestri, Esq.
664 Prospect Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Social
Services, Section 8 Housing Program
Attention: Joseph A. Freyre
25 Sigourney Street,
Hartford, CT 06106
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission