FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Mike Swift and The
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-035|
|Chief of Staff, Office
of the Mayor,
City of Hartford, and Office of the
Mayor, City of Hartford
|Respondents||August 26, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 18, 1998 at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The respondents submitted the records at issue to the Commission on April 20, 1998 for an in camera inspection. In addition, at the hearing in this matter, the complainants submitted a document to the Commission for in camera review. Such document summarizes some of the information contained in the in camera records submitted by the respondents.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(1), G.S.
2. It is found that during the latter part of 1997 the city of Hartford (city) received responses to the citys request for proposal for the redevelopment of a seven parcel piece of property (RFP), owned by the city and located in downtown Hartford, commonly referred to as the Cutter Site.
3. It is found that by letter dated January 21, 1998, the complainants requested that the respondents provide them with copies of the RFP responses being reviewed by the city council and other officials.
4. It is found that by letter dated January 27, 1998, the respondents denied the request, indicating that the RFP responses are exempt from disclosure.
5. Having failed to receive the requested records, the complainants appealed to the Commission by letter dated January 29, 1998 and filed on January 30, 1998, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by denying them a copy of the RFP responses. The complainants requested that a civil penalty be imposed upon the respondents because the city has continued to deny them access to the RFP responses even though the issue of disclosure of such RFP responses has been previously decided by both the Commission and the courts.
6. Section 1-18a(5), G.S., defines public records as [a]ny 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.
7. Section 1-19(a), G.S., in relevant part, further provides:
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.
8. It is found that the respondents maintain the RFP responses, and such records are public records within the meaning of §§1-18a(5) and 1-19(a), G.S.
9. The respondents contend that the RFP responses constitute commercially valuable plans exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(5), G.S., and statements of financial worth exempt pursuant to §1-19(b)(8), G.S.
10. Section 1-19(b)(5), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of:
trade secrets, which for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act, are defined as unpatented, secret, commercially valuable plans, appliances, formulas, or processes, which are used for the making, preparing, compounding, treating or processing of articles or materials which are trade commodities obtained from a person and which are recognized by law as confidential, and commercial or financial information given in confidence, not required by statute.
11. Section 1-19(b)(8), G,S., further permits the nondisclosure of:
statements of personal worth or personal financial data required by a licensing agency and filed by an applicant with such licensing agency to establish his personal qualification for the license, certificate or permit applied for.
12. Following the hearing in this matter, the RFP responses were reviewed in camera. The RFP responses comprise 407 pages and have been designated, for identification purpose, IC#1998-035-1 through IC#1998-035-407. IC#1998-035-148, except for a two word heading, is a blank page.
13. It s found that the proposals contain the names and addresses of the entities and individuals involved in each proposed development plan, a description of the development plan, a summary of the developers sources of funding, finance plan, projected costs, intended uses of funds, projected development schedule, projected operating revenue and expenses, resume and experience, lender references, property manager profile, maps and drawings of the development plan and photographs of buildings. The RFP responses also contain individuals social security numbers.
14. With respect to the claim of an exemption pursuant to §1-19(b)(8), G.S., it is found that the proposals do not constitute statements of personal worth or personal financial data required by a licensing agency and filed by an applicant with such licensing agency to establish the applicants personal qualification for a license, certificate or permit applied for, within the meaning of §1-19(b)(8), G.S.
15. Consequently, it is concluded that the proposals are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(8), G.S.
16. With respect to the claim of an exemption pursuant to §1-19(b)(5), G.S., it is found that the proposals are not trade secrets, defined as unpatented, secret, commercially valuable plans, appliances, formulas, or processes, used for the making, preparing, compounding, treating or processing of articles or materials which are trade commodities obtained from a person and recognized by law as confidential, within the meaning of §1- 19(b)(5), G.S.
17. It is found however, that some of the information contained in the RFP responses constitutes commercial or financial information within the meaning of §1- 19(b)(5), G.S.
18. It is further found that IC#1998-035-39, IC#1998-035-270 and IC#1998-035- 271 constitute commercial or financial information given in confidence, within the meaning of §1-19(b)(5), G.S., and the Commission is unaware of any statute requiring the submission of such information to the respondents.
19. Consequently, it is concluded that IC#1998-035-39, IC#1998-035-270 and IC#1998-035-271 are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(5), G.S.
20. It is further found however, that the respondents failed to prove that with the exception of the records described in paragraph 19, above, any other information contained in the RFP responses constitutes commercial or financial information that was given in confidence within the meaning of §1-19(b)(5), G.S.
21. It is therefore, concluded that with the exception of IC#1998-035-39, IC#1998-035-270 and IC#1998-035-271, the RFP responses are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(5), G.S.
22. It is further concluded that the respondents violated §§1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., when they failed to promptly provide the complainants with a copy of the RFP responses, with the exception of IC#1998-035-39, IC#1998-035-270 and IC#1998-035- 271.
23. It is further found that the violation described in paragraph 22, above, was without reasonable grounds.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Forthwith, the respondents shall provide the complainants with a copy of the RFP responses, with the exception of IC#1998-035-39, IC#1998-035-270 and IC#1998- 035-271.
2. The Commission in its discretion declines to order the disclosure of social security numbers. The respondents may therefore, redact the social security numbers contained in IC#1998-035-3, IC#1998-035-42, IC#1998-035-94, IC#1998-035-227 and IC#1998-035-344 in complying with paragraph 1 of the order. In addition, the respondents may redact all personal bank account information contained in IC#1998-035- 323, which information the complainant indicated at the hearing he was not seeking.
3. Forthwith, the respondent chief of staff shall remit to the Commission a civil penalty in the amount of $300.00.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 26, 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:
Mike Swift and The Hartford Courant 285 Broad Street Hartford, CT 06115
Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor, City of Hartford, and Office of the Mayor, City of Hartford c/o Atty. Ivan A. Ramos Special Counsel Office of Corporation Counsel 550 Main Street Hartford, CT 06103
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission