Who files FOI requests in Hartford?

Print More

The Freedom of Information Act allows any person to file a request for government documents — but two in every three requests to the City of Hartford come from either a lawyer or a reporter.

The city posts a list of every request on its data portal, which is what we analyzed. (The list of FOI requests to the state are tougher to piece together, since each agency keeps their own list. Perhaps that’s a project for another time.)

Here’s how the FOI requests break down.

We categorized the type of organization that filed each request.
Type of organization Requests
media 102
law 55
no organization listed 46
engineering / environmental / construction 24
government 8
other 8
activist/community group 4
labor 2
citizen 1
insurance 1
prisoner 1
City of Hartford

There were 252 requests filed from February 2014 to March 2015, and 102 of the filers reported affiliation with a media organization. The Hartford Courant filed 24 of the requests, and NBC Connecticut filed 15. Many of them relate to law enforcement, the courts and the New Britain Rock Cats, the minor league baseball team with plans to move to Hartford.

People reporting affiliation with legal firms accounted for 55 of the requests, often asking for recordings of legal proceedings, police records and information relating to specific properties.

Engineering, construction and environmental companies also made a handful of requests, mostly asking for information on specific properties.

About 77 percent of requests are marked as “complete,” as of last week, but 17 percent are still open and the rest, largely requests for police data, were referred to specific departments.

Image courtesy of Niklas Bildhauer, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

What do you think?

  • Does it really matter who files a FOI request, or if a FOI request is allowed to be filed?

    Alarming are the changes in the FOI laws in the legislative session 2013-2104.
    Who made those changes? Why were those changes made?

    The people certainly didn’t write the legislation or petition their government for these changes.
    In the aftermath of Sandy Hook mass murder and suicide, a group, “Sandy Hook
    Victims”, was given “special access” to a private meeting with lawmakers in reference
    to FOI laws. In addition, recall legislators took the usual step to travel to Sandy Hook,
    Newtown and had a “lottery” of who could attend those “closed” televised legislative
    hearings. No public hearings were held to support or pass PA 13-3.

    The 14 Amendment provides all citizens equal access to the law.

    The weak in leadership have to change rules in order to win because ultimately
    if they were honest with the people, their message would be rejected.

    This they know.

    Leaders who close their eyes are remembered in history.
    This week actually highlights one Governor who made history for his leadership,
    Pontius Pilate.

  • It was sort of disappointing to see the lack of FOI requests filed by citizens. It makes me wonder if people just do not think they need to do this because their needs are being met by the media, or if they are unaware of the ability to do it, or if they lack awareness of how to do it.

    • alvinschang

      I suspect it’s a combination of the above. I think if you get to a subset of people who a) need/want info, b) know about FOI and c) have the willingness to file a request, you get down to a minuscule number of people.