With the demise of Hartford Corporation Counsel John Rose after his termination by Mayor Segarra, I had high hopes that the promises of transparency would actually ring true. I had the expectation that FOI requests would actually become requests rather than the battles I had grown accustomed to under Rose and Perez.
As much as I had high hopes, that has definitely not been the case. Rather than re-type everything, below is an FOI complaint I just made against the City of Hartford and the Corporation Counsel Saundra Kee-Borges for failing to comply with a Commission order. The Commission's order from the September 8, 2010 ruling that Kee-Borges has failed to comply with is also below.
FOI COMPLAINT-FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH COMMISSION ORDER
On September 1, 2009 specific documents were requested from the City of Hartford through a written FOI request. The request was not complied with and an FOI complaint was filed on September 19, 2009. The matter was heard as a contested case and on December 17, 2009 a hearing was held. On December 19, 2009 hearing officer Kathleen Ross issued an in-camera ordered for respondent Rose to submit the requested documents for review. Respondent Rose failed to comply with that order and the hearing officers report was prepared and presented to the Commission on April 14, 2010.
At the April 14, 2010 meeting,respondent Rose requested the matter reopened so he could now comply with the Commissions in-camera order. The Commission re-opened the matter. Respondent Rose subsequently complied with the in-camera review and a second hearing and proposed findings were prepared and presented to the Commission at its September 8, 2010 meeting.
Prior to the September 8, 2010, on or about July 6, 2010, respondent Rose was terminated as the Corporation Counsel for the City of Hartford. Before the September 8, 2010 meeting , I contacted the new Corporation Counsel , Saundra Kee-Borges and she advised me that they would not be opposing the proposed Final Decision, nor did they intend to appeal the decision or offer any arguments.
After the hearing and the Commissions acceptance of the hearing officer's report I contacted Ms. Kee-Borges to obtain the documents. She advised me that there was a problem since respondent Rose had not kept any copies of the documents provided for the in-camera review and the only copies were in possession of the Commission.
During the September 8, 2010 Commission meeting, a letter was introduced from Carl Nasto, Deputy Corporation Counsel stating that copies were not kept. While accepting the letter, the Commission stated that copies could be made for the City at the statutory rate of $.50 per page. Previous testimony by respondent Rose during hearings detailed that the documents filled two cardboard file boxes and apparently accounted for several thousand pages.
I had been told by the Commission that there was a 45 day waiting period for any appeals. Even though the City had claimed that they would not appeal, the Commission was obligated to retain the documents until October 31, 2010, the end of the 45 day appeal period. I spoke with Kee-Borges and reluctantly agreed to another 45 day delay in obtaining the documents because of respondent Rose's incompetence in not retaining copies . Since the copying of several thousand documents at $.50 a page would cause the City to incur substantial costs, the 45 day period was acceptable.
The 45 day period expired October 31, 2010 and despite several promises from Kee-Borges, the documents have not been provided “forthwith” as ordered by the Commission on September 8, 2010.
A fourteen month delay in obtaining public documents is unacceptable, and a 3 month delay since the Commission's order should be intolerable.
I would ask for immediate action on this matter and additional Civil penalties be considered for failing to comply with the Commission's lawful order.
After filing the complaint for failing to comply last week, today I received an e-mail from Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Nasto. Essentially,he is claiming the delay because they don't know what they gave to FOI so they don't know what to give me. That explains an awful lot, how long to you think any of these attorneys would survive in the real corporate world?
Here is the text of Nasto's e-mail:
Kevin: Our office retrieved the files from FOIC; however, the exhibits that we were given do not match up with exhibit #s referenced in the decision so we cannot determine which documents we need to disclose to you. We have contacted FOIC and are trying to resolve this problem as soon as practicable. If you have any questions, please contact me at 757-9710. -Carl
This is only the beginning, tomorrow I will detail an attempt by the Hartford Police Department and Assistant Chief Heavren to avoid the release of documents I requested regarding a 2001 HPD investigation. Those documents were discovered by police investigators working on recent sexual assault allegations made by several individuals to the Hartford Police Department. Although Chief Heavren claims the investigation was destroyed years ago, that is the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, through a series of mistakes by HPD, it is very likely that those mistakes allowed a man ,who several police sources have identified as a sexual predator, to remain on Hartford's streets to this day.
FOI Decision Sept 8 2010