FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Ron Robillard and The
Printing Company, Inc.,
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-176|
|President, Windham Mills
Corporation; and Windham Mills
|Respondents||July 22, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 24, 1998, at which time the complainants and respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Docket #FIC 1997-374, Ron Robillard and The Chronicle Printing Company, Inc. v. Chairman, Northeast Connecticut Economic Alliance Inc., and Northeast Connecticut Economic Alliance Inc., was consolidated with the above-captioned matter for purpose of hearing. Certain Windham Mills Development Corporation records including, by-laws, minutes, financial statements and assistance agreements were reviewed in camera.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. It is found that by letter dated October 10, 1997, the complainants requested that the respondent president provide them with a copy of the lease for the new mill tenant you mentioned at Tuesdays Board of Selectmen meeting (hereinafter requested record).
2. It is found that the respondent president denied the request by letter dated October 28, 1997, indicating that the respondent corporation is not a public agency.
3. Having failed to receive a copy of the requested record the complainants, by letter dated November 20, 1997, and filed with the Commission on November 26, 1997, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
4. The test for determining whether entities such as the respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(1), G.S., is set forth in Board of Trustees of Woodstock Academy v. FOI Commission, 181 Conn. 544 (1980), and consists of the following four criteria:
(a) whether the entity performs a governmental function; (b) the level of government funding; (c) the extent of government involvement or regulation; and (d) whether the entity was created by government.
5. The Supreme Court in Connecticut Humane Society v. FOI Commission, 218 Conn. 757, 761 (1991), advocated a case by case application of the Woodstock criteria, and established that all four of the foregoing criteria are not necessary for a finding of functional equivalence. Rather [a]ll relevant factors are to be considered cumulatively, with no single factor being essential or conclusive.
6. It is found that the respondent corporation owns, operates and develops the Windham Mills property, which consists of approximately forty acres.
7. It is also found that the respondent corporation renovated buildings, installed new utilities and engaged in environment cleaning up of the property.
8. It is further found that the respondent corporation contracted with tenants to lease portions of the property.
9. It is concluded that the respondent corporation does not perform a governmental function.
10. It is found that the respondent corporation is funded primarily by loans from the Bank of Boston.
11. It is also found that the respondent corporation receives loans from the state of Connecticut.
12. It is concluded that the respondent corporation does not receive substantial government funding.
13. It is found that as a result of the loans received from the state, the respondent corporation is subject to certain public reporting procedures.
14. It is also found that the respondent corporation is governed by a five member board of directors. The board elects directors whenever vacancies arise.
15. It is further found that there is no government involvement in the day to day activities of the corporation. The redevelopment of the property is operated and managed by a private construction management firm.
16. It is concluded that the respondents are not subject to substantial government involvement or regulation.
17. It is found that the respondent corporation is a nonstock, nonprofit corporation, exempt from federal income tax pursuant to §501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.
18. It is also found that the respondent corporation was created in 1994 by Northeast Connecticut Economic Alliance Inc. in conjunction with Northeasts municipal development project. The respondent corporation was created to acquire and redevelop the Windham Mills property.
19. In light of the commissions conclusion in docket # FIC 1997-374 that Northeast Connecticut Economic Alliance Inc. is a public agency within the meaning §1- 18a(a), G.S., it is concluded that the respondent corporation was created by the government.
20. However, based upon the totality of all relevant factors, it is concluded that the respondents are not public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S., and therefore, not subject to the FOI Act.
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 July 22, 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:
Ron Robillard and The Chronicle Printing Company, Inc. c/o Ron Robillard One Chronicle Road P.O. Box 148 Willimantic, CT 06226-0148
President, Windham Mills Development Corporation; and Windham Mills Development Corporation c/o Atty. Lisa Silvestri 56 Arbor Street Hartford, CT 06106
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission