The Freedom of Information Commission annual conference is returning on Friday, October 20th. Please click here for more information or to register.

Final Decision FIC2014-218
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Paul Littlefield,
Docket #FIC 2014-218
Harriet Polansky, Executive Director,
Housing Authority, Town of Trumbull; and
Housing Authority, Town of Trumbull,
February 4, 2015

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 15, 2014, 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.  By letter of complaint filed April 14, 2014, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his March 21, 2014 request for copies of records pertaining to hiring “a program management services provider for the rehabilitation and renovation of Stern Village and Stern Center.” The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty.
     3.  It is found that the complainant made a Friday, March 21, 2014 request to the respondents to view, before a Monday March 24, 2014 meeting of the respondent Trumbull Housing Authority:
... any and all materials and/or documents, including but not limited to the Statement of Need  and scope of the project(s); engineering/architectural plans; the names of management services providers who bid, the date and the publications in which the RFP(s) were placed, the identity of the selected bidder; the projected costs of the rehabilitation and renovation; assessments of need; CHFA documentation and approval; source(s) of funding, including the spending down of the Allocated Reserve Funds; the statement of ranking of priorities given by the Capital Fund Analysis (2013) to rehabilitation and renovation of Stern Village and Stern Center; the identity of the Professional Engineer, required by state regulation, and manner in which the PE was selected.
     4.  It is found that the complainant repeated his request, with minor variations, on March 24, 2014.
     5.  It is found that the respondent Polansky never received the March 21, 2014 email, because it was sent to an address that she does not use.
     6.  It is found that the respondent Polansky, by email dated March 26, 2014, informed the complainant that she had assembled about 160 pages of records for his inspection, and that these were all the records the respondents had that were responsive to his request. Although the respondent indicated in this email that the complainant would not be permitted to photograph the records, or take notes concerning them, the note-taking restriction was expressly lifted the following day, and there was no evidence that the complaint wished to take photographs of the records, or was prevented from doing so. The Commission in its discretion therefore declines to address the photography limitation further, other than to direct the parties’ attention to §1-210(a)(2), G.S., cited below.
     7.  It is found that the complainant inspected the records that were assembled for him, and had copies made of the records he wished copied.
     8.  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.
     9.  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, (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.  (Emphasis supplied).
     10. Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part: “Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
     11. It is found that the records assembled for, and inspected by, the complainant are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
     12. The complainant maintains that not all the requested records were provided to him.
     13. It is found that the respondent Polansky conducted a diligent seven-hour search for records responsive to the complainant’s request, including a search of the respondents’ computer system, and provided all responsive records in the custody of the respondents. While the complainant had reason to believe that additional records might exist, based upon his reading of certain statutory requirements, upon statements made by the respondents at the time, and upon his assumption that certain email communications would have occurred, it is found that no further documents exist.
     14. It is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged.
     15. In light of the conclusion reached in paragraph 14, above, no civil penalty shall be considered.

     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 special meeting of February 4, 2015.
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

Paul Littlefield
162 Hedgehog Circle
Trumbull, CT  06611
Harriet Polansky, Executive Director,
Housing Authority, Town of Trumbull; and
Housing Authority, Town of Trumbull
c/o Darin Callahan, Esq.
Owens, Schine & Nicola, P.C.
799 Silver Lane
Trumbull, CT  06611

Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission