FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Donal C. Collimore,          
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-762
Records Official, City Council,
City of Bridgeport; and
City Council, City of Bridgeport,
 
  Respondents September 8, 2010
       

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 13, 2010, at which time the complainant and respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, the above captioned matter was consolidated with Docket # FIC 2009-759; Donal C. Collimore v. City Attorney, City of Bridgeport; and City of Bridgeport;  Docket FIC 2009-760; Donal C. Collimore v. Planning and Zoning Commission, City of Bridgeport; and City of Bridgeport; Docket # FIC 2009-761; Regensburger Enterprises v. Planning and Zoning Commission, City of Bridgeport; and City of Bridgeport; Docket # FIC 2009-763; Donal C. Collimore v. Mayor, City of Bridgeport; and City of Bridgeport; Docket # FIC 2009-764; Donal C. Collimore v. Ethics Commission, City of Bridgeport; and City of Bridgeport.

 

 

            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, by letter dated December 3, 2009, the complainant requested from the respondents “all documentation including, but not limited to, biographical information, notes of interviews, and/or results of background investigations concerning the appointment and/or confirmation of Thomas Fedele, 215 Burnsford Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut to a position with the Planning and Zoning Commission of the City of Bridgeport.”

 

3.      By letter dated December 14, 2009, and filed on December 16, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of the records, described in paragraph 2, above. 

 

4.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records or files” as:

 

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 “any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.”

 

7.      It is found that the records requested by the complainant, to the extent that they exist, are public records and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless they are exempt from disclosure.

 

8.      It is found that on April 1, 2010, four months after the complainant’s records request described in paragraph 2, above, the respondents contacted the complainant for the first time, informing him that records responsive to such request would be forwarded to him by April 5, 2010.  It is further found that on April 5, 2010, the respondents left a message for the complainant at his place of business, informing him that such records would not be available until April 7, 2010.  In addition, it is found that on April 9, 2010, the respondents contacted the complainant again informing him that the records responsive to his December 3rd request would not be available until the following Monday, April 12, 2010.         

 

9.      At the hearing in this matter, the respondents, through counsel, stated that they had in their immediate possession records responsive to the complainant’s December 3rd request, which they would provide to the complainant at no charge.[1]

 

10.  The respondents, through counsel, also acknowledged that their response to the complainant’s records request was untimely, but that such delay was justifiable given their shortage of staff and funding.

 

11.  It is found that, at the time of the complainant’s December 3rd request, the respondents were experiencing staffing shortages.

 

12.  Notwithstanding the respondents’ staffing shortages, as described in paragraph 11, above, it is found that the respondents’ provision of such requested records four months after they were requested, was not prompt within the meaning of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

13.  It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents violated 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide to the complainant copies of the requested records, described in paragraph 2, above.

 

 

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

                                                                       

1.      The respondents shall forthwith provide to the complainant, free of charge, a copy of any requested records that have not previously been provided.  The respondents shall inform the complainant by affidavit, signed by the City Clerk, within 30 days, whether or not records exist pertaining to the appointment of Thomas Fedele to the Bridgeport Planning and Zoning Commission.

 

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

 


           

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 8, 2010.

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

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:

 

Donal C. Collimore

1150 Post Road

Fairfield, CT 06824


Records Official, City Council,

City of Bridgeport; and

City Council, City of Bridgeport

C/o Melanie J. Howlett, Esq.

Office of the City Attorney

999 Broad Street, 2nd Floor

Bridgeport, CT 06604

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2009-762FD/sw/9/13/2010

 



[1]  The respondents also stated that although they believed that the records described in paragraph 9, above, are the only records responsive to the complainant’s December 3rd request, and that there are no records being claimed to be exempt from disclosure, they would nevertheless conduct another search to determine whether there are any records for which an exemption can be claimed.  Following the hearing, the hearing officer ordered the respondents to submit copies of any records that are being claimed exempt from disclosure for an in camera inspection; or in the alternative, if there are no such records, the respondents were ordered to submit a statement to the Commission, with a copy to the complainant, indicating that there are no records for which an exemption is being claimed.  On July 7, 2010, pursuant to the hearing officer’s order, the respondents notified the Commission, that there are no documents to be submitted in camera in this matter.