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FOILed Again: (Partial) Satisfaction

On Monday afternoon, Cavette Chambers of the City of Buffalo’s law department sent me some of the records I’d asked for several weeks ago, regarding the Mayor’s Impact Team. I originally requested all records related to the team’s budgets and expenditures dating back two years.

Here’s the letter of decision from Chambers, and here’s the gist: I was not given access to the team’s 2006-2007 budget, she said, because those records do not exist. I was not given access to audits performed on the team, because no audits had been performed up until the one launched by City Comptroller Andy SanFilippo two weeks ago. Finally, I’ve been denied all correspondence (paper, email, etc.) related to the budgets and expenditures because, she says, they are “intra/inter-agency materials.”

That last denial cites New York State Public Officers Law 87(2)(g):

2. Each agency shall, in accordance with its published rules, make available for public inspection and copying all records, except that such agency may deny access to records or portions thereof that:

(g) are inter-agency or intra-agency materials which are not:

i. statistical or factual tabulations or data;
ii. instructions to staff that affect the public;
iii. final agency policy or determinations; or
iv. external audits, including but not limited to audits performed by the comptroller and the federal government; or

I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t believe that the correspondence Chambers has denied access to isn’t covered by one or more of those four exceptions. Especially by (iv), given that an audit of the Mayor’s Impact team is near completion. Any lawyers out there want to enlighten me?

This is the document I was sent: Mayor’s Impact Team records. We’re sorting through it now. Meanwhile, I’m told the comptroller’s audit will be released next week. I also am told it will be thorough; time will tell.