FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Elijah El-Hajj-Bey and

Reliable Mechanical Contractors LLC,

 
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-521

Director of Capital Improvements and

Skilled Trades, Housing Authority, City of Hartford;

and Housing Authority, City of Hartford,

 
  Respondents May 25, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 1 and April 11, 2011, at which times the complainants and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

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)(A), G.S.

 

2.  It is found that, by letter dated August 6, 2010, the complainants requested six categories of records concerning the bid process for a set of improvements to public housing units in Hartford (the “requested records”). The relevant bid process took place in 2010, as a result of funding from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

 

3.  It is found that by email also dated August 6, 2010, the respondents provided various requested records to the complainants, including the bid materials from three of the seven bidders on the package of improvements.   

 

4.  By letter dated August 20, 2010 and filed with the Freedom of Information Commission (the “Commission”) on August 23, 2010, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents failed to provide the requested records in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

5.  Sections 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., state, respectively, in relevant parts:

 

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, (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. 

 

 

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

 

6.  It is concluded that the requested records are “public records” within the meaning of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

7.  It is found that the respondents had to perform an extensive search for the portion of the requested records that consisted of correspondence and, particularly, emails. By letter dated December 14, 2010, the respondents provided these records to the complainants on a disk. Because the complainants indicated that they could not open the files on the disk, paper copies of the same records were forwarded to the complainants on January 27, 2011.

 

8.  At the March 1, 2011 hearing, the hearing officer suggested that the parties meet prior to a continued hearing in order to resolve remaining issues concerning the production of requested records. When the parties met on March 17, 2011, the respondents provided the complainant the bid documents from the remaining four bidders. These bid documents had been maintained by the project construction manager, Enterprise Builders of Newington, Connecticut. Subsequent to the March 17, 2011 meeting, the respondents provided the complainants with additional records which had not been part of the August 6, 2010 request.

 

9.  At the April 11, 2011 hearing, the complainants stated that, as of March 17, 2011, the complainants believed they had received all of the requested records.

 

10.  It is found that Enterprise Builders was a contractor of the respondents, and the respondents could receive records relating to the relevant improvement project from its contractor at any time. The initial failure of the respondents to retrieve the bid documents from the remaining four bidders caused a delay in providing this portion of the requested records to the complainants of about six months.

 

11.  It is concluded that the respondents failed to provide the records “promptly” in violation of 1-212(a), G.S. See Advisory Opinion #51, In the Matter of a Request for Declaratory Ruling, Third Taxing District of the City of Norwalk, Applicant (Notice of Final Decision dated January 11, 1982).      

 

             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 provide non-exempt requested records promptly.

 

 

 

           

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 25, 2011.

 

 

 

___________________________

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:

 

Elijah El-Hajj-Bey and

Reliable Mechanical Contractors LLC

11 Palisado Avenue

Windsor, CT 06095

 

Director of Capital Improvements and

Skilled Trades, Housing Authority, City of Hartford;

and Housing Authority, City of Hartford

C/o Annette Sanderson, Esq.

Sanderson Associates, LLC

15 Lewis Street, Suite 402

Hartford, CT 06103

 

___________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2010-521FD/sw/5/26/2011