August 28, 1998
Hon. Paul J. Feiner
Town of Greenburgh
P.O. Box 205
Elmsford, NY 10523
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, unless otherwise indicated.
Dear Supervisor Feiner:
I have received your letter of August 19 in which you referred to an advisory opinion
addressed to you on August 13. In that opinion, it was advised that a list of senior citizens
could be withheld on the ground that disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of
personal privacy. You indicated that "the letter that Richard Brodsky sent to residents of
Greenburgh was sent to people throughout the Town, even though some were not senior
citizens", and expressed the understanding "this would change the interpretation of the law."
In this regard, in order to acquire additional information concerning the matter, I
contacted Assemblyman Brodsky. He informed me that he list used for the mailing pertains
to residents who are 45 years of age or over. Consequently, while your contention that some
on the list are not senior citizens is accurate, the list nonetheless identifies people on the basis
of an age qualification. Because the list is based upon a distinction in terms of age, my
opinion is the same as that offered to you on August 13. In short, while Assemblyman
Brodsky could choose to disclose the list to you, I do not believe that he would be obliged
to do so.
If a list is not based upon any personal characteristics, such as age, ethnicity, income
level or similar qualifier, it would likely be available, unless the list would be used for
commercial or fund-raising purposes [see Freedom of Information Law, §89(2)(b)(iii)]. In
this instance, because the list is based upon age, for reasons expressed in the earlier opinion,
there would be no obligation, in my view, to disclose.
I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify your understanding of the Freedom of
Information Law and that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Hon. Richard Brodsky