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FOIL-AO-13561
August 19, 2002

Dear

I have received your letter of August 13, as well the materials attached to it. In brief, a
constituent, Mr. Nicholas Evanchik, has contended that the Freedom of Information Law should be
strengthened and that the Village of Briarcliff Manor has denied access to records in a manner
inconsistent with law. Further, in a letter that he addressed to the Mayor and Trustees of the
Village, he wrote that I prepared an opinion advising "that access should be allowed."

In this regard, first, I agree with Mr. Evanchik's contention that the Freedom of Information
Law should be strengthened. As you are aware, the Committee on Open Government prepares an
report to the Governor and the State Legislature in which numerous proposals are offered to improve
the operation of the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Laws, as well as other statutes
dealing with the accountability of government. Enclosed is a copy for your consideration, and I will
send a copy to Mr. Evanchik as well.

Second, I believe that Mr. Evanchik's characterization of my opinion is inaccurate. In a
written advisory opinion addressed to him on March 20, I offered remarks concerning access to "an
outside appraisal for a property located" within the Village of Briarcliff Manor. While it was
advised that portions of that record may be accessible, it was specified that others, notably those
"reflective of opinion, advice, recommendation and the like," could in my view be withheld. In
short, it was not advised that "access should be allowed", but rather that the contents of the record
in question serve as the means of determining the extent to which it must be disclosed or,
conversely, may be withheld. An appraisal by its nature includes the opinion offered by an
appraiser regarding the value of real property. Information of that nature, as explained in the
advisory opinion, may be withheld.

It is noted that Mr. Evanchik's objections expressed in his letter to the Mayor and Trustees
have been discussed with Michael Blau, the Village Manager. Based on my conversation with Mr.
Blau, I believe that he understands and concurs with the advisory opinion rendered by this office
in March.

I hope that I have been of assistance. If you would like to discuss this or any other matter,
as always, I am at your service.

Sincerely,

 

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director

RJF:jm

Enc.

cc: Nicholas Evanchik
Hon. Keith Austin
Michael Blau