By Corrin Strong
It seems like the whole Town of Geneseo needs a remedial course in the Freedom of Information Law. They just don’t get it!
Last week, PDDG sent the planning board and the town clerk copies of four advisory opinions from the NYS Open Government Committee, all clearly stating that a DEIS and any correspondence related to it given to the town by or on behalf of an applicant is a public document.
As a result Town Planning Board Chairman Dwight Folts delivered to us a document from Newman Development’s engineers dated August 10 that he had “forgotten” to give to his own board. We would have thought that would have settled the issue but apparently not!
On Friday the very same engineers delivered a 200-page addendum to the applicant’s DEIS attempting to cure the many deficiencies that were found in the original version by the town’s consultants and PDDG. The document was time-stamped as being received by the town at 4:45 pm Friday afternoon, which is 15 minutes after the office is supposed to be closed for the week.
Although all Planning Board members were called Friday afternoon, as of Monday at 1:30 pm, not all of them had even picked up the document about which they are supposed to vote at the planning board meeting tonight at 7 pm. But it gets worse!
When I stopped at the town office at 1:30 today requesting to inspect the document under FOIL, I was told that the town did not have a copy to show me. The applicant had apparently only delivered 7 copies, one for each planning board member, and even though not all of them had been picked up, they weren’t sure if I could look at one of the copies they still had.
I was told that Harris Beach attorney Joe Picciotti, who represents the planning board, would have to be called to see if it was alright for me to inspect a public record. I left my cell phone number and as of two hours later I am still waiting for an answer.
There is something seriously wrong with this picture. The town, the planning board, the applicant and practically everybody in Geneseo knows that we want access to our public record and yet roadblocks continue to be thrown up in the way. This is totally unacceptable!
Bill Lofquist and I have renewed our request to be placed on the agenda tonight to address this failure to properly interpret or follow the Freedom of Information Law. I hope you will contact your local planning board member and urge them to allow us to speak.
P.S. At 4:30, just as the town office was closing I received my answer. The last copy had been picked up by the planning board member, but even if the town had a copy they wouldn’t let me see it. I would have to wait 5 days to get a response to my FOIL.