FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Cherlyn Poindexter and Local 3144,

New Haven Management and

Professional Union,

 
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-432

Director, Department of Human

Resources, City of New Haven; and

City of New Haven,

 
  Respondents May 11, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 3, 2011 at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  This matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC2010-390, Cherlyn Poindexter and Local 3144, New Haven Management and Professional Union v. Civil Service Commission, City of New Haven; and Personnel Director, City of New Haven

 

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 memo dated June 15, 2010, the complainants requested a list of names of all individuals working as interns within the city, along with the following information:  age of intern, town/residency, name of high school/college, current grade level, department/assignment, hours worked per week, length of internship to date. 

 

3.  It is found that, by memo dated June 21, 2010, the respondents informed the complainants that they “do not maintain the record you seek,” but that they have a list of names of the interns working for the City of New Haven.  However, the respondents further informed the complainants that they were withholding such list of names from disclosure, pursuant to 1-210(b)(11), G.S. 

 

4.  By letter dated July 8, 2010 and filed July 9, 2010, the complainants 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.

 

            5.  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.

 

6.  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.

 

            7.  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.”

 

8.  It is found that the records described in paragraph 2, above, 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. 

 

9.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents informed the hearing officer that they no longer claimed an exemption for the names of the student interns working for the city, and provided the complainants with a list of such names.  In addition, at the hearing in this matter, the respondents provided the complainants with a separate list, which included the interns’ names and addresses.  However, the respondents continued to maintain that the remainder of the requested information is not entered into their computer database, and the respondents are not required to create a list responsive to the request described in paragraph 2, above. 

 

10.  Based upon the foregoing, it is found that the respondents do not maintain a list, described in paragraph 2, above, containing all of the information sought by the complainant.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act in failing to provide such list. 

 

11.  However, the complainant argues that the respondents failed to provide her with the list of names and addresses promptly, as required by the FOI Act. 

 

12.  In response, counsel for the respondents stated, at the hearing in this matter, that the acting Director of Human Resources, to whom the request was addressed, was newly hired from the private sector and genuinely believed that, because the students were minors, their names should not be released.  Counsel further maintained that she, herself, was unable to find any case law or guidance on the issue of whether 1-210(b)(11), G.S., would apply to records maintained by a non-educational institution.  It is noted that no witnesses appeared to testify on behalf of the respondents.

 

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

 

14.  In response to the hearing officer’s inquiry, the counsel for the respondents agreed to search for other records, such as applications or resumes of student interns, that might contain the information sought by the complainants, as described in paragraph 2, above.   Counsel further agreed that if such records exist, she would make them available for inspection by the complainants.

 

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 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 May 11, 2011.

 

 

__________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

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:

 

Cherlyn Poindexter and Local 3144, New Haven

Management and Professional Union

P.O. Box 1748

New Haven, CT  06507

 

Director, Department of Human Resources,

City of New Haven; and City of New Haven

c/o Kathleen M. Foster, Esq.

Office of the Corporation Counsel

165 Church Street, Fourth Floor

New Haven, CT  06510

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2010-432/FD/cac/5/17/2011