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May 6, 1997

 

 

 

Mr. Peter A. Tulin
City Attorney
City of Saratoga Springs
City Hall, Room 9
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866-2296

The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to
issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is
based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.

Dear Mr. Tulin:

As you are aware, I have received your letter of April 14 and
the correspondence attached to it.

The correspondence consists of a request for a list of
participants in the softball clinic run by the City of Saratoga
Springs Youth Commission for the past three years. The applicant
wrote that he wants to compare the list with the names of members
of the varsity and junior varsity softball teams at Saratoga
Springs High School and indicated that he would be "willing to make
do with a list of last names and first initials."

From my perspective, the City would not be required to
disclose any identifying details concerning the participants in the
clinic. In this regard, I offer the following comments.

First, as a general matter, the Freedom of Information Law is
based upon a presumption of access. Stated differently, all
records of an agency are available, except to the extent that
records or portions thereof fall within one or more grounds for
denial appearing in §87(2)(a) through (i) of the Law.

Second, in my view, the issue is whether disclosure of the
information sought would constitute an unwarranted invasion of
personal privacy pursuant to §87(2)(b) of the Freedom of
Information Law. I know of no judicial decision that deals with
the matter directly. Nevertheless, it has been advised that
personally identifying details based on age may justifiably be
withheld based on considerations of privacy. For instance, lists
of senior citizens who participate in a municipality's program for
the aging or lists of children who participate in a summer
recreation program, indicate, by their nature, that certain people
fall with small age ranges. In those instances, since a class of
persons would be identified by means of age, it has been advised
that disclosure would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal
privacy. The same kind of disclosure would be made in this
instance, for release of the information sought would focus on
children falling within a small age group and would indicate a
certain interest or perhaps talent.

I recognize that reasonable people frequently have different
views concerning disclosure, especially when dealing with issues
involving personal privacy. However, particularly because the
information in question focuses on the activities of children, I
believe that the City could justifiably deny access to any portion
of its records that would identify the children on the ground that
disclosure would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal
privacy.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Sincerely,

 

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director

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