FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Michael Kelly and
The Record-Journal Publishing Company,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-092
Meri-Weather, Inc.,
Respondents October 28, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 23 and August 
6, 1998, at which times the complainants and the 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.  By letter dated March 19, 1998, the complainants requested to inspect and 
receive copies of the respondent’s “voided checks and the supporting documentation, 
including receipts, for” seventeen checks identified by number (the “requested records”). 
	2.  By letter dated March 26, 1998, the respondent, after conferring with its 
attorney, declined to provide access to the requested records based upon its belief that the 
respondent is “a private organization…not subject to …the Connecticut Freedom of 
Information Statutes”.
	3.  By letter dated April 3, 1998 and filed on April 6, 1998, the complainants 
appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of 
Information Act by not allowing inspection of the requested records.
	4.  The present case presents a single legal issue, which is whether the respondent 
is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S. This subsection provides:
"Public agency" or "agency" means any executive, administrative 
or legislative office of the state or any political subdivision of the 
state and any state or town agency, any department, institution, 
bureau, board, commission, authority or official of the state or of 
any city, town, borough, municipal corporation, school district, 
regional district or other district or other political subdivision of 
the state, including any committee of, or created by, any such 
office, subdivision, agency, department, institution, bureau, board, 
commission, authority or official, and also includes any judicial 
office, official or body or committee thereof but only in respect to 
its or their administrative functions.
	5.  In Board of Trustees of Woodstock Academy v. FOI Commission, 181 Conn. 
544, 554 (1980) (“Woodstock”), the Supreme Court adopted the “functional equivalent” 
test to determine whether an entity is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(1), 
G.S. The test for functional equivalence to a public agency 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 government.
	6.  Subsequently, in Connecticut Humane Society v. FOI Commission, 218 Conn. 
757, 761 (1991) (“Humane Society”), the Supreme Court elaborated that all four factors 
set forth in Woodstock are not necessary for a finding of functional equivalence, but 
rather that “all relevant factors are to be considered cumulatively, with no single factor 
being essential or conclusive.”
	7.  In 1998, the Appellate Court, in Domestic Violence Services of Greater New 
Haven, Inc. v. FOI Commission, 47 Conn. App. 466, 475, 477, 478 (1998) (“Domestic 
Violence”), added:
The key to determining whether an entity is a government agency 
or merely a contractor with the government is whether the 
government is really involved in the core of the program…[the 
exercise of] direct, pervasive or continuous regulatory 
control….[and] government’s control of the detailed physical 
performance…[internal punctuation omitted] 
	8.  With respect to the first criterion of the functional equivalent test (whether the 
entity performs a governmental function), it is found that the purpose of the respondent, 
stated in its articles of incorporation, is “encouraging the process of community-based 
economic development in minority, poor, or disadvantaged communities…expand[ing] 
opportunites for low income minority and disadvantaged individuals to enter into, own, 
manage, operate or be employed in business enterprise… and… promot[ing] and 
enhanc[ing] the vitality and health of existing neighborhoods”.  
	9.  More specifically, it is found that the primary activities of the respondent have 
been to operate energy conservation and lead abatement programs, both of which 
activities implemented public policy initiatives of the U.S. Congress and the Connecticut 
General Assembly. 
	10.  While such social welfare programs are not universally supported as 
appropriate activities for government, it is beyond question as a matter of history and it is 
found that, in the period from the 1960’s to the 1990’s,  social welfare programs such as 
those operated by the respondent have been governmental functions. (See Domestic 
Violence at 474.) The respondent, therefore, performed a governmental function.   
	11.  With respect to the second criterion of the functional equivalent test (the level 
of government funding), it is found that the respondent has experienced three distinct 
phases during the course of its existence: a) the 1983 to 1985 period, when the respondent 
operated actively; b) the 1986 to 1993 period, when the respondent was relatively 
inactive; and finally, c) the 1993 to 1996 period, when the respondent operated 
substantially based upon a $380, 000 lead abatement grant from the U.S. Department of 
Health and Human Service (“HHS”) and a contract with Northeast Utilities for its “Wrap-
Up/Seal-Up” program. During this last period, the respondent was also the successful 
bidder for a number of other contracts, primarily with Connecticut municipal housing 
authorities. 
	12.  Throughout its existence, public funding from various sources has been 
integral to the respondent’s existence, but as in Domestic Violence, “the funds are 
consideration for providing certain services”, supra at 476. Only in one year did state and 
federal grants, taken alone, exceed 30% of all revenues (61% in 1994). Therefore, it is 
found that the level of government funding criterion of the functional equivalent test is 
not met. 
	13.  With respect to the third criterion of the functional equivalent test (the extent 
of government involvement or regulation), it is found that the governing body of the 
respondent, its board of directors, was initially appointed by the board of directors of the 
Meriden Community Action Agency (“MCAA”) (see Docket #FIC 93-174 wherein 
MCAA was found to be a public agency). Moreover, a majority of the respondent’s board 
of directors (four out of seven) continues to be appointed by the MCAA. The 
respondent’s board of directors is also subject to a requirement that no quorum is deemed 
to be present unless two MCAA appointed directors are present. Finally, the respondent is 
required by its articles of incorporation to make available all its records to the MCAA on 
a monthly basis.
	14.  It is found that the executive director of the MCCA, who is compensated is 
for his MCAA services, also serves without compensation as CEO and the fiduciary agent 
of the respondent. Moreover, all of the respondent’s financial records are maintained by 
the staff of MCAA and all such records are kept on file at the MCAA offices. Indeed, 
MCAA provided its administrative offices for the technical support and operation of the 
respondent  generally. 
	15.  Accordingly, it is found that MCAA, a public agency, is, in the language of 
Domestic Violence, “involved in the core of the [respondent’s] program”, and in its 
“detailed physical performance”. Because MCAA exercises “direct, pervasive… 
regulatory control” over the administrative operations of the respondent, the third 
criterion of the functional equivalent test is met. 
	16.  With respect to the fourth criterion of the functional equivalent test (whether 
the entity was created by government), it is found that the respondent was created as a 
non-profit 501(c) corporation in 1983.  It is also found that a study group recommended 
to the MCAA board of directors that it research the development of a non-profit, 
community based economic development corporation. Subsequently, the MCAA board of 
directors directed its staff to form such an organization. As previously stated at paragraph 
13, above, the respondent’s board of directors was initially appointed by the MCAA’s 
board of directors. It is therefore found that the respondent was created directly by the 
MCAA, a public agency of government.
	17.  However, because the respondent was not a “committee” of the MCAA, the 
holding in The Elections Review Committee of the Eighth Utilities District v. FOI 
Commission, et al., 219 Conn. 685 (1991), is not applicable in the present case.
	18.  It is concluded that the respondent is, at bottom, the product of second 
generation public policy initiatives designed to reduce poverty through public-private 
hybrid agencies. The respondent would never have existed but for this array of public 
policy initiatives, including affirmative action programs that may have aided in procuring 
contracts from a publicly regulated, ratepayer financed private corporation as well as 
from municipal housing authorities.
	19.  Based upon the law of Woodstock (the functional equivalent test),  Humane 
Society (factors considered cumulatively and no single factor essential), and Domestic 
Violence (the key is government control), as well as the forgoing findings that three of 
the four Woodstock criterion are satisfied (all except the level of government funding), it 
is concluded that the respondent is the functional equivalent of a public agency within the 
meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S. 
	20.  Consequently, it is concluded that the respondent violated the provisions 1-
19, G.S. when it declined to permit the complainants to inspect the requested records. 
	The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of 
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
	1.  The respondents shall permit the complainants to inspect the requested records 
forthwith.



Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of 
October 28, 1998.

_________________________
Melanie R. Balfour
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:
Michael Kelly and 
The Record-Journal Publishing Company
11 Crown Street
Meriden, CT 06450
Meri-Weather, Inc 
c/o Atty. David L. Metzger
25 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106-1707


__________________________
Melanie R. Balfour
Acting Clerk of the Commission


FIC1998-092FD/mrb10291998