FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Frederick J. Kroll,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997-192

Director of Cultural Affairs, City Of New Haven,

 

 

Respondents

March 25, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 27, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Contested cases docket #s FIC 1997-163, Frederick J. Kroll and Frederick J. Kroll Electric v. Director of Cultural Affairs, City Of New Haven, FIC 1997-194, Frederick J. Kroll v. Director of Cultural Affairs, City Of New Haven, FIC 1997-284, Frederick J. Kroll v. Director of Cultural Affairs, City Of New Haven and FIC 1997-326, Frederick J. Kroll v. Director, Department of Cultural Affairs, City Of New Haven, were consolidated with the above-captioned matter for purpose of hearing.

        The issues raised in this complaint are identical to those raised in contested case FIC 1997-194, Frederick J. Kroll v. Director of Cultural Affairs, City Of New Haven.

        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(1), G.S., ( 1-18a(a), G.S., prior to Oct. 1, 1997).

        2. It is found that by letter dated June 7, 1997, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with copies of the following records, (hereinafter "requested records").

a. the signed contracts with Northeast Technical ("Northeast") for the 1997 Harborfest and Summertime street festivals ("festivals"); and

b. all financial reports of money paid to Northeast and to "In any event" for consultation or any other service provided by these companies.

        3. Having failed to receive the requested records, the complainant, by letter dated and filed on June 24, 1997, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying him a copy of the requested records.

        4. It is found that upon receipt of the complainant’s June 7, 1997 letter of request, the respondent consulted with corporation counsel for the city of New Haven ("corporation counsel").

        5. It is found that by letter dated June 25, 1997 corporation counsel informed the complainant that the contracts had not yet been executed, offered him a copy of the unexecuted contracts, and informed him that no financial reports existed. Corporation counsel suggested that the complainant telephone her to discuss his request.

        6. It is found that by letter dated June 25, 1997, the complainant wrote to corporation counsel insisting that financial records, such as checks and other documents existed because the owner of "In Any Event" had received payment by check from the city of New Haven for consulting services for the festivals. The complainant renewed his request for the financial records and requested the unexecuted contracts.

        7. It is found that by letter dated June 27, 1997 corporation counsel provided the complainant with the certain contracts and financial records that are responsive to his request.

        8. With respect to the request for "signed" contracts, described in paragraph 2a above, the complainant contends that corporation counsel’s June 25, 1997 letter described in paragraph 5 above, indicated that no executed contract existed as of that date, however, upon his receipt of the Northeast contract in her letter of June 27, 1997 described in paragraph 7 above, such contract reflects that it was executed on June 20, 1997. The complainant therefore contends that the executed Northeast contract existed at the time he received corporation counsel’s June 25, 1997 letter denying his request for the signed Northeast contract.

        9. It is found that as of June 25, 1997 no executed contract with Northeast existed.

        10. It is found that the Northeast contract was executed after June 25, 1997, but back-dated to reflect an execution date of June 20, 1997.

        11. With respect to the request for financial reports, described in paragraph 2b, above, it is found that at the time of the complainant’s request, the respondent maintained records responsive to such request which records were not provided to the complainant until June 27, 1997.

        12. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all 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 provisions of section 1-15. Any agency rule or regulation, or part thereof, that conflicts with the provisions of this subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights granted by this subsection shall be void. [Emphasis added.]

        13. It is concluded that the records provided to the complainant, and described in paragraph 7 of the findings, above, are all public records within the meaning of 1-18a(5), G.S., (1-18a(d), G.S., prior to Oct. 1, 1997) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        14. It is also concluded that the respondent’s provision of access to the financial records on June 27, 1997 was not prompt within the meaning of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., and therefore, the respondent violated such provisions.

        15. However, it is further concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., when she provided the complainant with a copy of the "signed" Northeast contract on June 27, 1997.

        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 promptness provision of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        2. At the hearing on this matter it was apparent that communication and dialogue between the complainant and the respondent had broken down. Under the FOI Act the complainant has a right to be provided with access to nonexempt public records promptly, and the respondent has an obligation to ensure that such access is provided. However, no public agency is expected to succumb to unprofessional and discourteous behavior. The Commission suggests that both the complainant and the respondent make their best efforts to restore communication between them in a spirit of professionalism and cooperation.

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 25, 1998.

_________________________
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:
Frederick J. Kroll
234 Helen Street
Hamden, CT 06514

Director of Cultural Affairs, City of New Haven
c/o Atty. David B. Greenberg
Corporation Counsel
165 Church Street
New Haven, CT 06510

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-192/FD/tcg/03271998