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Home Government WANTED: Rye Mayor Sack’s City Emails. Commentary by Ted Carroll.

WANTED: Rye Mayor Sack’s City Emails. Commentary by Ted Carroll.

by Ted Carroll, Guest Columnist

Heather     Pattersoncityhall

Was someone on the city council bench recently holding forth about municipal accountability and transparency? Here’s a quick update on a story we’ve brought to you here, and here, and here, and here – Rye Mayor Sack’s Secret Emails before.

On November 30th 2016 the Rye resident records requestor who, after 400 days of delays and dismissals was forced to sue the city at his own expense to obtain copies of Mayor Sack’s official city related email correspondence recently was further forced to write to the court with newly relevant information. The full text of that letter follows with noted redactions:

November 30, 2016

Westchester County Judge Honorable (Redacted)

Westchester County Court House

110 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard

White Plains, New York 10601

Fax # (914) 824-(Redacted)

Re:       (Redacted)

Dear Honorable Judge (Redacted):

Since I last wrote to you and carbon copied the Respondents on November 1, 2016, I received a response from the Respondents that included most of the information that was not provided initially including the names of who submitted FOIL Requests to the City of Rye in the time frame requested as well as the dates that these FOIL Requests were responded to by the City of Rye.  Respondent Serrano also indicated in this response that besides the FOIL Appeals submitted by the Petitioner, there were no other FOIL Appeals received by the City of Rye during this time frame.

Not providing these records and information until after I wrote to the court has already been well established in this proceeding as how the Respondent’s respond to the Petitioner when it comes to Petitioner’s requests for records.

Petitioner believes that except for Petitioner’s FOIL Appeals, no other FOIL Appeals were received by the Respondents in this time frame because all of the other FOIL Requests received by the Respondents in this time frame were responded to in a timely and lawful manner and records were provided in a timely and lawful manner.  In most, if not all of Petitioners FOIL Requests, FOIL Appeals had to be submitted because the Respondents simply and unlawfully did not respond to the Petitioner’s FOIL Requests. This was further exasperated by the Respondent’s unlawfully not responding to the Petitioner’s FOIL Appeals that led to this Article 78 Petition.

Now that these records have been provided by the Respondents, as they were requested to be provided by the Petitioner, the Petitioner believes it can now be proven beyond any doubt that as far as the Petitioner’s FOIL Requests, that are the subject of this Article 78 Petition, the Respondent’s discriminated against the Petitioner by not responding to his FOIL Requests and FOIL Appeals for public records in the same timely and lawful manner that was afforded to virtually every other City of Rye FOIL Requestor.

As an example of the disparate treatment suffered by the Petitioner at the hands of the Respondents, the Petitioner submitted a FOIL Request to the City of Rye on January 8, 2016, for City of Rye Building Department records. This FOIL request is included in the Article 78 Petition. The Respondents ignored the Petitioner’s FOIL Request, FOIL Appeal and numerous correspondences. Only after the subject Petition was filed, six (6) months later, did the Respondents respond to this FOIL Request. The response consisted of a grand total of two (2) pages.  I note that the two (2) pages of records were not provided to the Petitioner until AFTER this Article 78 Petition was filed and on the day of Respondent’s Response to the Article 78.

Between September 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016, two local realtors submitted fifty (50) FOIL Requests for similar records from the same City of Rye for the same Building Department records. Ten (10) other FOIL Requests were submitted to the City of Rye by various other Rye realtors for City of Rye Building Department records in this same time frame. All of the sixty (60) FOIL Requests were responded to. ALL of the FOIL Requests were responded to and records were provided in a timely and lawful manner. NONE of the FOIL Requests had to be appealed.  With rare exception, all of these sixty (60) FOIL Requests were responded to and records provided within five (5) business days or less. Some were responded to and records provided on the same day they were filed.

On the other hand, Petitioner’s FOIL Request for the exact same type of records from the same municipality that consisted of a grand total of two (2) pages, took six (6) months and necessitated the filing of the subject Petition at great cost to Petitioner in terms of actual money, legal fees, legal expenses and time to get the two (2) pages of records from the Respondents. 

This is just one example of many other FOIL Requests and FOIL Appeals including the FOIL Requests and FOIL Appeals that are the subject of the Article 78 Petition, some of which have yet to be responded to by the Respondents including the FOIL Request and FOIL Appeal for the Employee Calendars of Respondent Serrano and Assistant City Manager Eleanor Militana.

The Petitioner believes that the Respondents handling of the Petitioner’s FOIL Request for an overview of City of Rye FOIL Responses, while this Article 78 Petition is before the Court, has further shown the Court firsthand how the Respondents continue to discriminate against the Petitioner in their responses to the Petitioner’s FOIL Requests and FOIL Appeals whereas their response was untimely and they initially improperly redacted records that should not have been redacted. The Respondent’s claim that the names of the FOIL Requestors were redacted from these public records for an unwarranted invasion of privacy was at best, ridiculous.

The Petitioner believes that the disparate manner in which Petitioner was treated versus other citizens filing FOIL Requests with the Respondents merits a finding by the Court that the Respondents intentionally and/or negligently violated the spirit and letter of the FOIL Laws. In addition, Petitioner believes he has substantially prevailed in this Article 78 Petition and that the awarding of legal fees and expenses to the Petitioner is warranted.

The Respondents have claimed in their papers that not responding to the Petitioner’s FOIL Requests and FOIL Appeals was not intentional, was inadvertent oversights or that the Petitioner not using their electronic e-mail system as some of the reasons they have violated the NYS Public Officers Law and the City of Rye FOIL Procedure with regard to virtually every FOIL Request the Petitioner has filed including the one that is the subject of this correspondence. The Petitioner believes the records he has finally received from the Respondents, has dispelled all of these myths that have been put forward by the Respondents and will further show the Court that the Respondents simply and intentionally discriminate against the Petitioner with regard to his FOIL Requests and FOIL Appeals for public records.

The Petitioner believes that the records he was seeking with his request for a Subpoena Duces Tecum was vital to both proving the facts contained in his Petition as well as for the Court to consider the awarding of legal fees and expenses. Since the Respondent’s provided the documents and information the Petitioner sought with his request for a Subpoena Duces Tecum, by finally responding in a lawful manner to the Petitioner’s FOIL Request and FOIL Appeal, the Petitioner respectfully withdraws his request for a Subpoena Duces Tecum.

The Petitioner believes it is virtually undisputed that the Respondents, including the agency City of Rye, had no reasonable basis for denying the Petitioner access to the records he sought AND the Respondents, including the agency City of Rye, failed to respond to the subject FOIL Requests and FOIL Appeals within the statutory time.

The Petitioner respectfully requests that the Court rule that the Petitioner has substantially prevailed in this proceeding, that the Respondents including the City of Rye, had no reasonable basis for denying the Petitioner access to the records he sought and the Respondents, including the City of Rye, failed to respond to the subject FOIL Requests and FOIL Appeals within the statutory time. Furthermore, the Petitioner respectfully requests that the Court grant Petitioner legal fees, paralegal fees, expenses as well as any other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

The Petitioner apologizes to the Court for any inconvenience this letter may cause the Court. However, Petitioner feels it was necessary to demonstrate to the Court the totality of the Respondent’s continued willful and intentional disregard of the NYS Public Officers Law (FOIL) and the City of Rye FOIL Procedure.

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.

Respectfully,

(Redacted)

Pro Se Petitioner

c.c.       Kristen Wilson, Esq,,

            Attorney for Respondents

As I mentioned at the top, was someone on the city council bench recently holding forth about accountability and transparency?

Ted Carroll is a lifelong Rye resident, a Certified Public Accountant, and a partner at Noson Lawen Partners, a media industry private equity firm.

See Carroll’s other recent MyRye.com commentaries here:

Builders Rule – You Get a Tax Hike. Construction Goes Wild While Building Permit Revenue Falls.

A Field Guide to Rye Municipal Corruption – Special Edition

  1. tedc,

    What are Joe Sack and Kristen Wilson hiding from the public?

    The contents of these e-mails must be pretty damaging for Sack and Wilson to pull this stunt in front of a Judge while in Westchester County Supreme Court.

    Perhaps these e-mails implicate Sack and others and that is why Sack and Wilson will not to even provide one e-mail.

    Sack said in July 2015that the City of Rye was looking for a new Corporation Counsel and an RFP would be done. Why hasn’t that been done yet? It’s been 1 1/2 years and no RFP.

    Is Sack keeping Wilson have something to do with Wilson protecting Sack from exposure to the contents of Sack’s e-mails?

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