FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
John Bolton,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-376
Mayor, City of Bridgeport,  
  Respondent  June 13, 2007
       

           

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 8, 2007, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, this matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2006-377; John Bolton v. Civil Service Commission, City of Bridgeport; and Personnel Director, City of Bridgeport and Docket #FIC 2006-378; John Bolton v. Chief, Police Department, City of Bridgeport.  

    

 

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, by letter dated June 30, 2006, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with the opportunity to inspect phone records of city-issued cell phones assigned to the respondent containing calls to Shawn Fardy and all cell phone records of city-issued cell phones from 2002 to June 30, 2006. 

 

3.  By letter dated July 20, 2006, and filed with the Commission on July 24, 2006, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (hereinafter “FOI”) Act by denying him the opportunity to inspect the records described in paragraph 2, above. 

 

4.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

[e]xcept 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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.  …

 

5.  Section 1-212, G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

(a) [a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record. 

 

(b) [t]he fee for any copy provided in accordance with subsection (a) of section 1-211 shall not exceed the cost thereof to the public agency.  In determining such costs for a copy, other than for a printout which exists at the time that the agency responds to the request for such copy, an agency may include only:

 

(1) An amount equal to the hourly salary attributed to all agency employees engaged in providing the requested computer-stored public record, including their time performing the formatting or programming functions necessary to provide the copy as requested, but not including search or retrieval costs except as provided in subdivision (4) of this subsection;

 

(2) An amount equal to the cost to the agency of engaging an outside professional electronic copying service to provide such copying services, if such service is necessary to provide the copying as requested;

 

(3) The actual cost of the storage devices or media provided to the person making the request in complying with such request; and

 

(4) The computer time charges incurred by the agency in providing the requested computer-stored public record where another agency or contractor provides the agency with computer storage and retrieval services….

 

6.  Section 1-211(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that: “[a]ny 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.”

 

7.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents acknowledged that the requested records are disclosable, and stated that the only issue was the cost of production of such records. 

 

8.  It is found that, by letter dated August 7, 2006, the respondent, through counsel, informed the complainant that he was not sure if the specific telephone number of Mr. Fardy could be isolated, and that the cost of producing the requested records would be two thousand two hundred and fifty dollars ($2,250.00), at the rate of seventy-five dollars ($75.00) an hour for thirty (30) hours. 

 

9.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant contended that, since he only requested the opportunity to view the requested records, no charge is permissible under the FOI Act. 

 

10.  It is found that the respondent failed to prove that the thirty hours referenced in paragraph 8, above, included time performing formatting or programming functions necessary to provide the requested records, or that such time did not include search and retrieval time, within the meaning of 1-212(b)(1), G.S. 

 

11.  It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-210(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with the opportunity 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.      Forthwith, the respondent shall provide the complainant with the opportunity to

inspect the requested records, at no charge.  If the respondent is unable to isolate calls made to Mr. Fardy’s telephone number, as described in paragraph 8 of the findings, above, the respondent shall inform the complainant of such telephone number, before he begins his inspection of the requested records. 

 

            2.  The respondent has the option of providing the complainant either with access to a computer terminal, or with a copy of the requested records. 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 13, 2007.

 

________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

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:

 

John Bolton

71 Woodland Avenue

Bridgeport, CT 06605

 

Mayor, City of Bridgeport

c/o John H. Barton, Esq.

Office of the City Attorney

999 Broad Street, 2nd floor

Bridgeport, CT 06604

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2006-376FD/paj/6/14/2007