In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Antony Dugdale,  
  against   Docket #FIC 2001-498

Bill O’Brien, Tax Assessor, City

of New Haven; David Ambrose,

Director of Operations, Office of

the Assessor, City of New Haven;

and Wallace Inkpen, Office of the

Assessor, City of New Haven,

  Respondents September 25, 2002


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 28, 2001, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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.  The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.


2.  By letter of complaint dated October 26, 2001 and filed with the Commission on October 30, 2001, the complainant appealed, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying him copies of certain records, as described more specifically in paragraphs 3, 4 and 5, below [hereinafter “requested records”].  In his letter of complaint, the complainant requested that the Commission impose civil penalties against the respondents.


3.  It is found that by letter dated August 6, 2001, the complainant requested that the respondent assessor provide him with access to correspondence related to twenty properties identified by address, which Yale University owns and which had undergone a change of status from taxable to exempt between 1996 and 2000.  Such properties were listed as:


184 Liberty St., 2 Whitney Ave., 1156 Chapel St., 60 and 64 Ashmun St., 246 Church St., 35 College St., 350, 370 Congress Ave., 313 and 353 Crown St., 120 East St., 746 Fountain St., 31 Hillhouse Ave., 205 Park St., 14 Prospect Pl., 459 Prospect St., 215 and 221 Whitney Ave., 139 York St., and 194 York St.




4.  It is found that the complainant renewed the request described in paragraph 3, above, by letter dated October 16, 2001. 


5.  It is found that, through a series of letters and e-mails, culminating in an October 4, 2001, e-mail, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with electronic copies of records indicating assessed values of all Yale University or Yale-New Haven Hospital properties for the years 1995 to the present. 


6.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., in relevant part, 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 or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.  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.  Section 1-211, G.S., further provides:


(a)  Any public agency which maintains public records in a computer storage system shall provide, to any person making a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, a copy of any nonexempt data contained in such records, properly identified, on paper, disk, tape or any other electronic storage device or medium requested by the person, if the agency can reasonably make such copy or have such copy made.  Except as otherwise provided by state statute, the cost for providing a copy of such data shall be in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.




9.  It is found that the respondents maintain some of the requested records and such records are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-211(a), G.S.


10.  The Commission takes administrative notice of the record, findings and final decision in Docket #FIC 2002-048; Antony Dugdale v. Bill O'Brien, Tax Assessor, City of New Haven; and Carl Ioveino, Manager of Information Office Technology, Information Technology Department, City of New Haven [hereinafter “Docket #FIC2002-048”].  Docket #FIC2002-048 in pertinent part addresses the same records requested of the respondent assessor by the complainant and sets forth an agreed settlement of this matter among the parties.  


11.  Specifically, with respect to the complainant’s request as described in paragraphs 3 and 4, above, the parties agreed that the complainant would limit his request to e-mail within the respondent assessor’s office.  The respondent assessor agreed to provide, within 30 days, and the complainant agreed to accept, the following: all e-mails that are readily retrievable from the staff of the assessor’s office.  In this regard, the respondent assessor will follow-up with the staff and have each person search and provide copies of all e-mails referencing the subject properties.


12.  With respect to the complainant’s request as described in paragraph 5, above, it is found that the respondents do not maintain the requested Grand Lists in electronic format.  The respondents however, maintain the Grand Lists in hard copy form.  It is also found that during July of 2001 the respondents were able to provide the complainant with some historic data (in electronic form) for the years 1997- 2000, which data existed at that time.


13.  The record in this case does not support the imposition of civil penalties.  Therefore, the request is denied.


Based upon the facts and circumstances of this case, no order is hereby recommended. 



Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 25, 2002.



Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission






Antony Dugdale

Local 34, H.E.R.E.

425 College Street

New Haven, CT 06511


Bill O’Brien, Tax Assessor, City

of New Haven; David Ambrose,

Director of Operations, Office of

the Assessor, City of New Haven;

and Wallace Inkpen, Office of the

Assessor, City of New Haven

c/o Donna Chance Dowdie, Esq.

Assistant Corporation Counsel

165 Church Street, 4th floor

New Haven, CT 06510





Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission