FOIL Appeal Determination for 09-26-6A (Irene Aloisio, October 7, 2009)
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Office of General Counsel, 14th Floor
625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-1500
FAX: (518) 402 9018 or (518) 402-9019
CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
October 7, 2009
P.O. Box 218
Old Forge, NY 13420
Re: Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL") Appeal No. 09-26-6A
FOIL Request No. 235
Dear Ms. Aloisio:
This is in response to your appeal, pursuant to the New York State Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL", codified at §§84-90 of the Public Officers Law ["POL"]), from the determination of Department staff to redact portions of complaint #09-013923.
Under POL § 87(2)(b) agencies can withhold information when the release of that information "would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under the provisions of subdivision two of section eighty-nine of this article." POL § 89(2)(b) says that an agency can't release personal information that would result in economic or personal hardship to the subject or such information is not relevant to the work of the agency.
Personal information of the person(s) reporting or assisting with an investigation is not relevant to the allegations of an environmental violation (see, Advisory Opinion AO-9214 [January 2, 1996], New York State Department of State, Committee on Open Government [identifying details pertaining to a complainant may be deleted pursuant to POL § 87(2)(b)]). Portions of a complaint or affidavit that identify a complainant by name or provide other identifying details may be redacted because disclosure would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. (See, Pennington v. Clark, 16 AD3d 1049 [4th Dept. 2005]; Advisory Opinion AO-10982 [August 4, 1998], New York State Department of State, Committee on Open Government (portions of a complaint that identify a complainant by name or provide other identifying details may be deleted because disclosure would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy)).
Two types of personal information were redacted on the record. First, your personal information, such as your date of birth and home telephone number, was redacted. Since you are the requester, your date of birth and home phone number can be released to you, but to no one else. I have attached a copy of the record with your personal information available to you.
Second, personal information of a complainant or of an individual spoken to by Department staff during an investigation, was redacted. A complainant's home address and telephone number are not relevant to the work of DEC and if released to the public could cause economic harm to that individual, thus is protected under POL §87(2)(b). This personal information will not be released as their privacy would be compromised, pursuant to POL §87(2)(b).
This letter is the final determination of the Department of Environmental Conservation with respect to your appeal. You have the right to seek review of this determination pursuant to Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, and POL §89(4)(b). In any further correspondence relating to this appeal, please refer to FOIL No. 09-26-6A.
Dena N. Putnick, Esq.
FOIL Appeals Officer
cc: Robert Freeman, Committee on Open Government, without attachment
Ruth Earl, Records Access Officer, without attachment
Deborah Christian, Office of General Counsel, without attachment
Ronald Novak, Region 6, Regional Enforcement Coordinator, without attachment