In the Matter of a Complaint by


Paul R. Mathewson,






Docket #FIC 2001-334

Office of the City Attorney, City of





 April 24, 2002






The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 8, 2001, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.


2.      It is found that on or about June 7, 2001, the complainant visited the treasurer’s offices at the Bridgeport City Hall and at that time made a request for access to inspect retired municipal employee pension records.  It is found that after being told that he could not “just walk in” and request the records because they did not know who he was, and because the information was not his, the complainant was referred to the respondent’s office.


3.      It is found that after several attempts to contact the respondent’s office by phone regarding his request, the complainant made a written request to the respondent and the city treasurer, dated June 29, 2001, asking for access to inspect “Bridgeport city employee payment information. Retired, or currently employed, including police and fire” (sic) (hereinafter “requested records”).


4.      By letter dated July 2, 2001, the respondent informed the complainant that his request was too vague and that with clarification, his request would be processed.  The respondent further informed the complainant that there would be a charge for the records he requested and that he would be required to make “a deposit prior to the preparation or copying of any records.”


5.      By letter dated July 9, 2001 and filed on July 10, 2001 the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying him access to inspect the requested records.


6.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records” as follows:


Public records or files means any 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 1-210(a), G.S., further 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 . . . 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.]


8.  It is found that the city of Bridgeport (“city”) maintains some of the requested pension records, and such records are stored on the city’s computer.  It is concluded that such records are “public records” within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.


9.  At the hearing on this matter, the complainant clarified that his request is for access to inspect the pension records of all active and retired city employees, including but not limited to teachers, employees of the police and fire departments, and all elected officials.  The complainant further clarified that he wants the names and gross payments involved.


10.  With respect to the complainant’s request for the records of active city employees, it is found that the city maintains pension records of all active city employees including teachers, employees of the police and fire departments, and elected officials.


11.  With respect to the complainant’s request for the records of retired city employees, it is found that the city maintains pension records for retired police and fire department employees only.  Pension records of retired city teachers are maintained by the State of Connecticut.


12.  It is found that the pension records maintained by the city that are responsive to the complainant’s request contain employees’ social security numbers.  It is found that the respondent refuses to disclose such social security numbers and the complainant has indicated that he is not seeking such numbers.


13.  It is further found that in order for the city to provide the complainant with access to inspect the names and gross payment amounts involved, without the social security numbers, the respondent proposes two options: (1) print the records as they exist in the city’s computer, manually redact the social security numbers and then permit inspection of the redacted record; (2) program the city’s computer so as to generate the names and gross payment amounts only.


14.  It is found that there are possibly thousands of pages of records responsive to the complainant’s request and the costs involved utilizing the first option described in paragraph 13, above, would be prohibitive.  It is found that the respondent has offered to provide the complainant with access to the names and gross payment amounts only, using the second option, described in paragraph 13, above, for $100 dollars. 


15.  The complainant contends that he should not be charged to inspect “public records” and that the respondent should provide him access to the requested records without charge.


16.  In Michael Kozlowski v. FOI Commission, docket No. CV 960556965, (Conn. Super. 1997, Maloney, J.), the Court concluded that because a state statute, §14-10(c), G.S., specifically prohibited the agency from disclosing certain exempt information contained in the requested record, and therefore redaction of the requested record was required in order to comply with the law, the agency could charge the requester a fee for the costs incurred in redacting the record prior to allowing inspection.  The Court noted that, “under the unique circumstances of this case, compliance with the complainant’s request to inspect records necessarily required the department to make copies of those records.” Kozlowski at p.3.


17.  In the present case, there is no federal law or state statute that prohibits the disclosure of the social security numbers contained in the requested records.  It is acknowledged that the Commission, in its discretion, has declined to order the disclosure of such numbers in prior cases.  However, unlike the situation in Kozlowski, the respondent here is not barred by any federal law or state statute from disclosing such numbers.  Rather, it is the respondent that has selected not to disclose such numbers, and therefore, it is appropriate based on that selection that the respondent should incur whatever costs are associated with separating that information from the requested records before permitting the complainant to inspect them. 


18.  Because the present case is distinguishable from Kozlowski, it is concluded that the respondent violated §1-210(a), G.S, by requiring that the complainant pre-pay $100 to inspect the names and gross payment amounts contained in the pension records at issue.


The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:


1.  Forthwith the respondent shall permit the complainant to inspect the requested records, excluding social security numbers, without charge.



Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 24, 2002.




Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission






Paul R. Mathewson

PO Box 787

Stratford, CT 06615-0787


Office of the City Attorney

City of Bridgeport

c/o John H. Barton, Esq.

Office of the City Attorney

999 Broad Street

Bridgeport, CT 06604





Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission