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 Final Decision FIC2013-233
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Vernon Leftridge,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2013-233
Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Social Services; and
State of Connecticut, Department of
Social Services,
     Respondents
February 26, 2014

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 5, 2013, at which time the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The complainant failed to appear. The hearing, originally scheduled for November 12, 2013, had been rescheduled to December 5, 2013 at the complainant’s request. The complainant’s subsequent request on December 4, 2013 to again reschedule the hearing was denied.
     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.  By letter of complaint filed April 16, 2013, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request for copies of client public assistance records.
     3.  It is found that the complainant made an April 4, 2013 request for access for copies of:
a. all records pertaining to my client I.D. number 001881980 from July 3, 2012 through April 4, 2013;
b. rental assistance, energy assistance from July 3, 2013 through April 4, 2013;
c. food stamps awarded benefits from July 3, 2012 through April 4, 2013;
d. all awarded assistance records from July 3, 2012 through April 4, 2013;
e. all records pertaining to my biological custodial minor child Juwan James Leftridge from 7/3/12 through 4/4/13 and live-in brother Sylvontae Bishop;
f. all records, notices, materials, emails, documents and correspondences from July 3, 2012 through April 4, 2013; and
g. all notices mailed to my home address, including all notices, letters, correspondences received by the Department of Social Services.
     4.  It is found that the respondents, by letter dated June 14, 2013, advised the complainant that Department of Social Services client records are confidential and are not disclosable to the general public under the FOI Act, but that the respondents would treat his request as one for his own client records. Attached to that letter were all records pertaining to his own identification number for the requested time period, and all records pertaining to his minor son for the requested time period. The June 14 letter also advised the complainant that his request for his brother’s records was denied because public assistance records are confidential and the records of another person cannot be released without an authorization signed by that person. Finally, the June 14 letter advised the complainant that the respondents did not maintain rental assistance or energy assistance records, but that copies of the complainant’s assistance records, including SNAP benefits would be obtained and forwarded to him, which they subsequently were.
     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:
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.
     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, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
     8.  It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
 9.  The respondent contends that the requested records are exempt from disclosure under §17b-90(b), G.S., which provides in pertinent part:
     No person shall, except for purposes directly connected with the administration of programs of the Department of Social Services and in accordance with the regulations of the commissioner, solicit, disclose, receive or make use of, or authorize, knowingly permit, participate in or acquiesce in the use of, any list of the names of, or any information concerning, persons applying for or receiving assistance from the Department of Social Services or persons participating in a program administered by said department, directly or indirectly derived from the records, papers, files or communications of the state or its subdivisions or agencies, or acquired in the course of the performance of official duties.
     10. It is found that the requested records are information concerning persons applying for or receiving assistance from the Department of Social Services or persons participating in a program administered by that department. 
     11. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged.
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

     1.  The complaint is dismissed.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 26, 2014.
__________________________
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:
Vernon Leftridge
73 A. Congress Street
Hartford, CT  06114
Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Social Services;
and State of Connecticut, Department of Social Services
c/o Tanya Feliciano DeMattia, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
State of Connecticut,
Office of the Attorney General
55 Elm Street
P.O. Box 120
Hartford, CT  06141-0120
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2013-233/FD/cac/2/26/2014