Bill Mahoney XXXX Jay Street Albany, NY 12210 (518) XXX-XXXX XXXXXXX@gmail.

com

March 1, 2010

Albany County Hall of Records 95 Tivoli Street Albany, NY 12207

Dear Albany County, I hereby request, under the provisions of the New York Freedom Of Information Law, Article 6 of the Public Officers Law, the following records: Electronic copies of Albany County’s property assessment records maintained by the Albany County Hall of Records for the years between 1950 and 1960, inclusive. I have already requested this information orally and been denied. My understanding is that the microfilm readers in the Hall of Records are attached to computers. A visitor can scan the images to the computers, but then must pay a mandatory printing fee for each page. The computers are fully capable of letting a user put the images on a USB flash drive, yet visitors are not allowed to do so due to a fear of computer viruses. I have offered to bring in an unopened flash drive, which is more than I believe I should be required to do, then copy the data myself. However, this request has still been denied with the argument that the only way this data could be obtained in electronic format is by having an employee of the Hall of Records copy the data onto a computer themselves (despite the fact that visitors are currently allowed to do this if they wish to print) then have them put the device on their own electronic media (media which would be more likely to contain a virus than the unopened flash drive I am willing to provide). Article 6 of New York’s Public Officers Law clearly states that any information that is capable of being sent electronically must be sent electronically if that is the desire of the requester. As this is my request, you are required to share this information in an electronic format. Advisory opinion FOIL-AO-17841 of the State of New York’s Committee on Open Government argues that if you do feel you have the “’technology equipment’ adequate to reproduce a record. . . it must develop the expertise to use the equipment in a manner consistent with the requirements imposed by the Freedom of Information Law.”1 A feeling on your end that you do not have the adequate virus protections on your hardware to handle the legally
1

http://www.dos.state.ny.us/coog/ftext/f17841.html

required transmission is a failure to have the adequate “technology equipment” required under state law. Further, I have declared that I am willing to assist in the transmission of these documents if you wish. Advisory opinion FOIL-AO-18104 clearly states that if “a person asks that records be made available on a cd and an agency has the ability to do so with reasonable effort, [The Committee on Open Government] believe[s] that it must do so, rather than requiring that the records be made available in hard copy.”2 Since you have the hardware capable of doing so and I am willing to volunteer my time, this is certainly “reasonable effort.” As stated under the Freedom of Information Law, an agency is required to respond to a request within five business days of receipt of a request. I would appreciate a response from your agency as soon as possible and we look forward to hearing from you shortly. If there is any reason why any portion of this request is denied, please inform me in writing of such denial including the legal basis under FOIL for such denial, and provide the name and address of the person or body to whom an appeal should be directed. Sincerely, Bill Mahoney

2

http://www.dos.state.ny.us/coog/ftext/f18104.html

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