FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

The Connecticut Resources

Recovery Authority,

 
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-476
Chief Executive Officer, The
Metropolitan District Commission; and
Metropolitan District Commission,
 
  Respondents June 22, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 29, 2010, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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), G.S.

 

2.      It is found that by letter dated May 20, 2010, the complainant requested from the respondents access to, and possibly copies of, multiple records related to several officers and commissioners of the respondent commission, and their salaries, and benefits, as well as compensation paid to outside counsel for the respondents.   

 

3.      It is found that the May 20, 2010 request letter specified, among other requests, the following records:

 

            a)  for 25 specific managerial positions, “all documents reflecting all employee benefits, perquisites, reimbursements, deferred compensation, and other payments or emoluments for or on behalf  of such employees for each of calendar years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 including without limitation all payments or reimbursements for each such employee’s recreation, meals, events, training, education, travel, conferences, rentals, lodging, retreats, clubs, organizations, or use of company assets, including vehicles.” 

 

            b)  “for each attorney hired or retained by MDC for any legal work, representation, research or any other legal services for which payment was made, including but not limited to Attorneys R. Bartley Halloran and James Sandler, or their respective law firms, all documents reflecting salary or payments made for services to MDC during calendar years 2006-2010, including, without limitation, all payments or reimbursements for each such attorney’s recreation, meals, events, training, education, travel, conferences, rentals, lodging, retreats, clubs, organizations, or use of company assets, including vehicles.”

 

            4.  It is found that, on July 14, 2010, the respondents provided copies of spreadsheets to the complainant which detail certain of the requested information.  Specifically, with respect to the request described in paragraph 3a, above, it is found that the respondents provided the complainant with a spreadsheet, indicating for each of the 25 employees, payments for salary, insurance, travel, clothing, mileage, license and registration fees, liability claims, seminars, conventions, professional association dues, employee education, cellular telephone, and computers. 

 

            5.  With respect to the request described in paragraph 3b, above, it is found that the respondents provided the complainant with spreadsheets detailing payments to attorneys and law firms.  Many of the payments are identified by short descriptions such as “CRRA-JFD Arbitraor” or “Gen. Legal Misc. Levy & Droney.”    

 

            6.  By letter dated July 28, 2010, and filed July 29, 2010, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by not providing access to or copies of any supporting documents for the data provided in the spreadsheets, and not providing copies of legal bills.  The complainant made other allegations in the complaint, which are no longer at issue. 

 

            7.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records” as follows:

 

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, …whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

 

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

 

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 inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.

 

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

 

            10.  On brief, the complainant contends that only two categories of requested records remain at issue, as described in paragraph 3, above.   

 

            11.  With respect to the request described in paragraph 3a, above, the respondents contend that no other payments were made to the employees at issue for the years in question.  The complainant contends that it is not credible that no payments were made to such employees for meals or travel for the specified years.[1]  

           

            12.  The Commission notes that the spreadsheet described in paragraph 4, above, provides much of the payment information requested by the complainant in an efficient manner.  However, the complainant is also entitled under the FOI Act to review and/or receive copies of the original records in the custody of the respondents which are the requested records of payments.  It is concluded that, by failing to provide the complainant with access to and/or copies of such original records, the respondents violated the FOI Act. 

 

            13.  With respect to the request described in paragraph 3b, above, the complainant contends that legal invoices should have been included in the records provided.  The respondents contend that legal bills do not fall within the scope of the request, and that the first time such invoices were mentioned was in the complaint to the Commission.  The respondents further contend that such bills are exempt by virtue of 1-210(b)(4), G.S.

 

            14.   The Commission notes that the spreadsheets described in paragraph 5, above, provide much of the payment information requested by the complainant, although some of the information is imparted in code.   However, the complainant is also entitled under the FOI Act to review and/or receive copies of the original records in the custody of the respondents which are the requested records of payments.  It is concluded that, by failing to provide the complainant with access to and/or copies of such original records, the respondents violated the FOI Act. 

 

            15.  Upon careful review of the request described in paragraph 3b, above, the Commission finds that a fair reading of such request encompasses payment records and does not encompass invoice records.  Accordingly, the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by declining to provide the complainant with copies of legal bills.  If the complainant seeks such records, it is not prevented from requesting them from the respondents.  

 

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

 

1.      Forthwith, the respondents shall provide the complainant with access to and/or  copies of the original payment records described in paragraph 3a and 3b, of the findings, above. 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 22,  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:

 

The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority

c/o Richard H. Goldstein, Esq. and

Daniel J. Klau, Esq.

McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP

One State Street, 14th Floor

Hartford, CT  06103-3102

 

Chief Executive Officer, The Metropolitan District Commission;

and Metropolitan District Commission

c/o R. Bartley Halloran, Esq.

District Counsel

The Metropolitan District Commission

555 Main Street

P.O. Box 800

Hartford, CT  06142

 

And

 

William H. Clendenen, Jr., Esq.

Clendenen & Shea, LLC

400 Orange Street

New Haven, CT  06511

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2010-476/FD/cac/6/24/2011



[1] It is found, however, that the spreadsheet provided to the complainant indicates several thousand dollars worth of travel expenses paid to such employees.