FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Kevin Brookman,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-512

Office of the Mayor,

City of Hartford; and

City of Hartford,

 
  Respondents May 27, 2009 
       

 

The above-captioned matter was scheduled to be heard as a contested case on January 12, 2009, at 2:00 p.m., at which time the respondents appeared but the complainant did not appear to prosecute the case.  A Report of Hearing Officer, dated January 14, 2009, was considered, but not adopted, by the Commission at its regular meeting on February 11, 2009.  The Commission, at such meeting, voted to reopen the hearing in this matter, and such hearing was held on April 6, 2009.  The complainant and the respondents appeared at the April 6, 2009 hearing, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  This matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2008-621, Kevin Brookman v. Human Resources Director, City of Hartford; and City of Hartford.

 

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.  It is found that, on June 11, 2008, the complainant sent the following email to Sara Barr, the respondents’ director of communications:

 

Re:  Fw:  notifications

 

Attached is the e-mail request I made to you last week requesting to be added to the media list for notifications from the Mayor’s Office.  In turn you responded with the question “what media organization are you representing?”  I responded with the answer that I am representing my program on Hartford Public Access titled “We the People”.  I am pretty sure from comments I have received from persons in the Mayor’s office that you are well aware of the program.  If not let me know and I will be glad to provide you with a DVD of one of our programs. 

 

Since I have not yet received any notifications directly from your office, I don’t think I have been added to the list yet.  Can you please let me know when this will happen so I don’t have to rely on others forwarding your releases to me.

 

Also, in accordance with the FOI Act, could you please provide me with the complete list of persons on your media notification list.

 

Your prompt response is appreciated.  Thank you.

 

 (the “June 11 email”).

 

3.  By letter of complaint dated, and filed on June 18, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with the request described in paragraph 2, above.

 

            4.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:

 

“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, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

 

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

 

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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

            6.   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.”

 

7.  It is found that the record described in paragraph 2, above, is a public record and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless it is exempt from disclosure. 

 

      8.  It is found that, by email dated September 8, 2008, the respondents provided the complainant with a copy of the record, described in paragraph 2, above.

 

9.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant argued that the respondents failed to respond to the request, described in paragraph 2, above, promptly, as required by the FOI Act.

 

10.  It is found that, prior to the June 11 email, described in paragraph 2, above, the complainant sent an email to Ms. Barr, dated June 6, 2008, requesting that his “e-mail address be added to the notification list for press conferences, press releases, and media notifications regarding the Mayor’s Office” (the “June 6 request”). 

 

11.   At the hearing in this matter, Ms. Barr, the director of communications for the mayor’s office testified, credibly, that when she received the June 11 email, she misread such email, in that she did not read such email in its entirety, and therefore did not realize that it was a request for a copy of the media list, but rather, believed it was a renewal of the June 6 request to be placed on the media list.  Ms. Barr testified, and it is found, that once she received notice from the Commission in September that a complaint had been filed against the respondents, she re-read the June 11 email, for the first time understood that the request was for a copy of the record described in paragraph 2, above, and she immediately made efforts to provide such record to the complainant.

 

12.  However, despite such misunderstanding on the part of Ms. Barr, it is found that the respondents failed to respond promptly to the request described in paragraph 2, above. 

 

            13.  It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents violated 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 respondents shall strictly comply with the promptness provisions of 1-210(1) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 27, 2009.

 

 

________________________________

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:

 

Kevin Brookman

120 Sigourney Street

Hartford, CT 06105

 

Office of the Mayor,

City of Hartford; and

City of Hartford

c/o John Rose, Jr., Esq.

Office of the Corporation Counsel

550 Main Street

Hartford, CT 06103

 

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-512FD/paj/5/29/2009