We note that the topic of FOILs didn’t appear on the agenda that was released prior to the board meeting...apparently it was added sometime the afternoon of the meeting.
Maybe it was after Mr. Wiatr appeared before the Oneida County Board of Legislators earlier in the day and spoke out about the $500,000 photo opt that appeared in the Observer Dispatch a day before Primary Day and several other items of town business.
At any rate, Mr. Wiatr also visited the Assessor's Office the same day to once again ask to inspect two records. We had been trying to inspect these two records for over a week, but we have continually been met with dilatory tactics. Real Property Tax Law requires that these records be on file in the Assessor’s Office.
Anyway, in what appears to be an attempt to once again thwart our efforts to view the records, Attorney Cully felt he needed to make the town board aware of complaints by two town employees. We would guess the complaints came from the two employees who work in the Assessor's Office.
During Attorney Cully’s FOIL diatribe, Mr. Wiatr said BULLSH*T to the person sitting next to him...not out loud, in fact it is barely audible on the videotape and the camera was right next to Mr. Wiatr, but apparently the attorney heard it anyway.
Suddenly Attorney Cully jumped out of his chair to challenge Mr. Wiatr and the shouting match began between the audience member, Attorney Cully and Supervisor Tyksinski. Not very professional, Attorney Cully!
Toward the end of the fracas, Councilman Backman asked the Town Attorney if the town was in compliance with the FOI Law. The town attorney answered, “We are complying with the FOI Law..yes!"
We beg to differ, Attorney Cully.
We refer you to the Committee On Open Government Regulation 1401.4
1401.4 Hours for public inspection.We never mentioned to the Assessor that we wanted copies; obviously we have been around long enough to know that would be done in an email through the Town Clerk's Office.
(a) Each agency shall accept requests for public access to records and produce records during all hours they are regularly open for business.
Perhaps when you are on the "hot seat" to produce records you don't have, details tend to get skewed. The request was to INSPECT what should have been readily available records. There were no demands made; and at no time was there shouting. We made several visits over the course of a week to inspect these records; twice being told that the person who knew where they were was unavailable.
Finally, on Friday, September 6th, a time was agreed upon when the records would be made available; the assessor was supposed to call back on Monday, September 9th to confirm that the records could be viewed...we received no such phone call.
You may not like it Attorney Cully, Supervisor Tyksinski may not like it and town employees may not like it… however, ALL person(s) have the right to inspect town records during normal business hours. That's a fact! Mr. Freeman has several opinion letters on the right to inspect records during normal business hours.
Furthermore, since February 2012, the town is required to make any records to be discussed that are accessible under FOIL available PRIOR TO a town meeting either on the town website or at the meeting. The town is currently not in compliance with that section of the law either. Documents are frequently not available until several weeks AFTER the board meeting and then only after they are FOILed.
Attorney Cully stated that he would contact Mr. Freeman to see what can be done about the FOILS. Please by all means do, Attorney Cully, but be sure you get the facts straight before you speak to Mr. Freeman. It has been our experience that how you ask a question determines the answer you get!
Here it is...