FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
John DeFrancesco,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2007-056

Executive Director, Housing Authority,

City of New Haven,

 
  Respondent  July 11, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 6, 2007, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  On June 11, 2007, the complainant submitted a “brief” to the Commission containing evidence not presented at the hearing in this matter.  Such “brief,” therefore, will not be considered herein. 

           

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 January 12, 2007, and received by the respondent on January 17, 2007, the complainant requested,  “pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, all employment records pertaining to [the paralegal] position” for which he had applied (“January 12, 2007 letter”).  The January 12, 2007 letter further stated that the request “includes but is not limited to:

 

a.       the full first names and full last names of all applicants for the paralegal position;

b.      resumes submitted for the job of paralegal;

c.       the completed applications of all applicants;

d.      any memos used to determine who shall be hired;

e.       applicants to be excluded and reason or reasons why those applicants were rejected  for the job;

f.        how each applicant heard about the paralegal position and other relevant information.”

 

The January 12, 2007 letter also stated:

 

“[p]lease follow the schema outlined above regarding the makeup of the entire workforce at the Housing Authority of the City of New Haven.  Secondly, the bank date and time of my security deposit.  This information must clearly show that it originated from the Bank.”

 

3.  By letter dated January 24, 2007 and filed January 26, 2007, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with 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 … receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

5.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part that “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.”

 

6.  It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

7.  It is found that, on February 15, 2007, the respondent filed an answer to a complaint filed by the complainant with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (“Answer”).  It is also found that, attached to the Answer as an exhibit, were copies of all applications received by the respondent for the paralegal position described in paragraph 2, above, with the applicants’ names, addresses and phone numbers redacted. 

 

8.  It is found that, on February 15, 2007, without a cover letter, the respondent sent the complainant a copy of the Answer and the exhibit, described in paragraph 7, above (the “February 15, 2007 response”).  It is found, however, that the February 15, 2007 response was not a response to the complainant’s January 12, 2007 letter, described in paragraph 2, above.  Rather, it is found that the February 15, 2007 response merely provided the complainant with a copy of a filing required in a separate proceeding.

 

9.  It is found that, by letter dated April 27, 2006 [sic], which was actually written on April 26, 2007, (“April 26, 2007 letter”), the respondent provided the complainant with copies of all applications and resumes received for the paralegal position, this time, redacting only the applicants’ social security numbers and driver’s license numbers. 

 

10.  It is found that the respondent, in the April 26, 2007 letter, informed the complainant that the Housing Authority “does not keep records of reasons that applicants were not selected for interview.”  Further, in such letter, the respondent explained that “if an applicant provided information about how they heard about the position, this information would be on their applications.”

 

11.  It is found that, with regard to the request for workforce information, the respondent, with the April 26, 2007 letter, provided the complainant with a document entitled “EEO-1 Report” which indicates “the breakdown of race and ethnicity of all 151 [Housing Authority] employees according to job categories.”  It is further found that, with regard to the request for bank information, the respondent indicated, in the April 26, 2007 letter, that such bank record was provided to the complainant in February, 2007.

 

12.  It is found that, by letter dated May 7, 2007 (“May 7, 2007 letter”), the respondent provided the complainant with copies of seventy-six (76) records, some of which had not previously been provided to him.  Such records consisted of score sheets, interview questions, interview notes, resumes, applications, cover letters from applicants, letters of reference, copies of emails and memos.  It is found that such records were within the scope of the request described in paragraph 2, above. 

 

13.  It is found that the May 7, 2007 letter described each record and, to the extent redactions were made to such records, the redacted information was identified and the reason(s) for such redaction was provided.  It is further found that the redactions consisted of:  certain home address and telephone numbers in cases where the respondent had “a reasonable belief the applicant has taken steps to keep his/her phone number private,” social security numbers and driver’s license numbers.

 

14.  It is also found that, in the May 7, 2007 letter, the respondent asked the complainant to clarify his requests for records regarding the workforce and bank information, as described in paragraph 2, above.  It is further found that the complainant did not respond to such request for clarification.  

 

15.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant testified that the bank record he received previously was a computer printout from a source other than the Bank, and that therefore, this was not the record he was seeking.  At the hearing, the respondent produced a statement from Wachovia Bank containing information about the complainant’s security deposit.  The complainant stated that this was the document he was seeking.  Although the respondent’s witness testified that the complainant had previously been provided a copy of such record, the complainant was provided with another copy of it immediately after the hearing.

 

16.  The complainant further testified at the hearing in this matter that, although he received some of the requested records on or about February 15, 2007, April 26, 2007 and May 7, 2007, many of the applications were “incomplete” in that, for example, certain information was not filled in on some of the applications or certain resumes did not have corresponding applications.  The complainant further testified that he believed there were applications or resumes in the respondent’s possession that were withheld from him.  He further testified that the workforce record he received was “incomplete” because certain categories he believed should have been on the form were not on such form.

 

17.  The respondent’s witness testified, and it is found that, on April 26, 2007 and May 7, 2007, the respondent provided the complainant with copies of all records he maintains that are responsive to the requests described in paragraph 2, above.

 

18.  Although the complainant, at the hearing in this matter, testified that the applications and workforce record he received were “incomplete”, and that the respondent withheld applications from him, he offered no evidence to support such claims.

 

19.  Despite the finding in paragraph 17, above, in failing to comply fully with the request described in paragraph 2, above, until approximately three months after the date such request was received, the respondent violated the promptness provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S. 

 

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

1.  Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the promptness requirements of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 11, 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 DeFrancesco

100 Viscount Drive, Apt. D23

Milford, CT 06460

 

Executive Director, Housing Authority,

City of New Haven

c/o Richard M. Haskell, Esq.

Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.

75 Broad Street

Milford, CT 06460

 

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2007-056FD/paj/7/19/2007