Opinions exempting Troy from requirements of Troy Code & NYS Law

Christopher Philippo filed this request with the Troy Records Access Officer of Troy, NY .
Est. Completion None
Status
No Responsive Documents

Communications

From: Christopher Philippo

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the New York State Freedom of Information Law (1977 N.Y. Laws ch. 933), I hereby request the following records:

The written opinions, if any, upon which the City of Troy has relied that indicate that the City of Troy may neglect the grading and maintenance of the roads in its municipal cemeteries so as to permit stagnant water to accumulate thereon and that the City of Troy may permit weeds, including poison ivy, to grow to well over six inches in its municipal cemeteries despite the apparent violation of the Troy Code (and requirements or recommendations of others, e.g. the NYS Health Department: "Eliminate all standing water on around your home and property where mosquitoes can breed" http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/west_nile_virus/ ), and that the mayor need not appoint a public historian despite the violation of NYS Law that refusing to appoint one for over thirty years would appear to entail.

Ordinarily the Troy Code and New York State Law need to be obeyed, and the Oath of Office sworn and filed by public servants typically requires them to see that the laws are upheld. As the Troy Code and New York State Law are apparently being violated, absent an opinion indicating that they may be freely violated, it would be difficult to understand why those violations aren't being addressed as they should be. Aside from that, leaders should be modeling the behavior they expect and require from others or else be identified as hypocrites:

"There is a revolving door at Troy City Hall that prevents wheelchair users from entering. An adjacent door offers no relief, and there's been no action to remove the barrier. [...]
"Gregory Jones, associate counsel to the state Office of the Advocate, said: 'You can't very well go into the private sector and start citing them until you have the government in full compliance.'"
Brown, Cailin. "Disabled Find Roadblocks to City Hall." Albany Times Union. January 15, 1995: A1. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=5756302

Local Historians

N.Y. ARTS & CULT. AFF. LAW § 57.07 (1) makes appointing a local historian a legal obligation, in relevant part: "A local historian shall be appointed, as provided in this section, for each city […] by the mayor"

"Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia […] said there's no money in the budget for a historian. He noted that Sheehan and Carroll provide services a city historian would undertake."
Crowe, Kenneth C. "Troy without a key piece of history; City has not had an official historian in 33 years despite state law." Albany Times Union. February 11, 2013: A1. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=21541645

City of Troy Code § C-44 states: "The Mayor shall be the chief executive officer of the City. He/She shall be responsible for the proper administration of all City affairs placed in his/her charge by law" and § C-48 "The Mayor, as the chief executive officer of the City, shall be responsible for the administration of the executive branch of the City government. Specifically it shall be the Mayor's duty: A. To see that the laws of the State of New York and the local laws and ordinances of the Council are enforced within the City; […] N. To perform such other duties as may be required of him/her under the laws of the State of New York, local laws, ordinances or resolutions of the City and this Charter."

Stagnant water, weeds, poison ivy, etc.

"All premises shall be graded and maintained so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon or within any building or structure located thereon." City of Troy Code § 176-16.

"Whatever is dangerous to human life or health, whatever renders the air or food or water or other drink unwholesome, and whatever building, erection or part or cellar thereof is overcrowded or not provided with adequate means of ingress and egress, or is not sufficiently supported, ventilated, sewered, drained, cleaned or lighted, is hereby declared to be a nuisance and to be illegal and every person having aided in creating or contributing to such nuisance, or who may support, continue or retain any such, shall be seemed guilty of a misdemeanor and also be liable for the expense of the abatement and remedy therefor." Troy City Code §205-1.

"It shall be unlawful for any person owning or holding real estate to allow or maintain on any lot within the corporate limits any growth of weeds to a height over six inches, and such growth of weeds is hereby declared to be a nuisance, injurious to public interests and public health." Troy City Code § 205-2.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

If my request is too broad or does not reasonably describe the records, please contact me via Muckrock.com so that I may clarify my request, and when appropriate inform me of the manner in which records are filed, retrieved or generated.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Christopher Philippo

From: Jessica.Sibley

Hi Christopher,

The City of Troy received your FOIL request.

I need you to be more specific in what you're looking for.
Written opinons on what, exactly?

It sounds like you are looking for legal research, which we neither
created nor maintain.
Best,

Jessica Sibley
Deputy Director of Public Information
Mayor Lou Rosamilia's Office
433 River Street, Suite 5001
Troy, NY 12180
Cell Phone:(518) 390-4830

From: Christopher Philippo

I’m not looking for “legal research.” It’s a fairly simple request for opinions concerning very specific matters, opinions that either do or do not exist. If they exist, they should be easy to locate given their exceptional nature.

City of Troy Code § 176-16 requires that premises be “graded and maintained so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon or within any building or structure located thereon”; Troy’s municipal cemeteries’ roads have clearly not been graded in a very long time as some are deeply rutted (at least one road in New Mount Ida Cemetery has even been blocked by a fallen tree large enough to be visible on Google Satellite) and stagnant water accumulates on them. Troy has presumably relied on an opinion of some sort, e.g. a court case, an advisory opinion from the Comptroller, an opinion of some kind from the Corporation Counsel, in order to exempt the city from the requirement of abiding by the City of Troy Code § 176-16.

Troy City Code §§205-1 and 205-2 require, among other things, that weeds not grow to over six inches, but weeds and poison ivy in Troy’s municipal cemeteries have grown much higher than that. Troy has presumably relied on an opinion of some sort, e.g. a court case, an advisory opinion from the Comptroller, an opinion of some kind from the Corporation Counsel, in order to exempt the city from the requirements of abiding by the Troy City Code §§205-1 and 205-2.

N.Y. ARTS & CULT. AFF. LAW § 57.07 (1) requires city mayors to appoint a city historian. Troy’s mayors have failed to appoint one for over thirty years. Troy’s mayors have been presumably relying upon an opinion of some kind, e.g. a court case, an advisory opinion from the Comptroller, an opinion of some kind from the Corporation Counsel, in order to exempt the mayor from the requirement of abiding of N.Y. ARTS & CULT. AFF. LAW § 57.07 (1).

Please inform me of the manner in which records of opinions of that nature are filed, retrieved or generated, or let me know that Troy has no opinions of that kind.

From: Christopher Philippo

New York Penal Code § 195.00 Official misconduct:
"A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, with intent to [...] deprive another person of a benefit: [...] He knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon him by law or is clearly inherent in the nature of his office.
"Official misconduct is a class A misdemeanor."

Benefit: "something that provides an advantage or gain ; specif : an enhancement of property value, enjoyment of facilities, or increase in general prosperity arising from a public improvement". Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law. 1996.

N.Y. PUB. OFF. LAW § 84: "a free society is maintained when government is responsive and responsible to the public [...] The people's right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society. Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of secrecy or confidentiality."

The New York Legislature's declaration is clear; people have a right to know, for example, what led to determinations that the City of Troy may refrain from duties imposed on it by law, duties such as grading and maintaining municipal cemeteries' roads so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon, maintaining any weeds in the city cemeteries at a high of no more than six inches, appointing a city historian, etc., duties the City has quite visibly refrained from performing.

"inasmuch as the city of Troy has established public burial grounds and assumed the responsibility for the care of such sold lots, and received money therefor, it would seem that there should be no hesitation on its part to perform a duty which if not a strictly legal [obligation] is certainly a strong moral obligation due to those who have purchased lots in said cemetery. Public institutions such as this should not be regarded as private speculative enterprises, but should be cared for and kept in order commensurate with the sacredness of the trust involved. Your committee would further report that complaints are made by many of our citizens of the extreme recklessness of the city authorities in general with regard to the condition of the cemeteries over which the city holds jurisdiction; not only Mount Ida, but the Troy burial ground on Ida hill, where lie the remains of many who should be held sacred as our honored dead, who in the early history of this city laid the foundation of an enterprising and prosperous municipality."
Cook, Peter, and Hugh Treanor, Committee on Burial Grounds. "By Ald. Cook, from committee on burial grounds." Troy Daily Times. May 24, 1886: 4 col 4.

Please make the records available (if such opinions as have been requested in fact exist), explicitly deny the request (on the basis of such opinions not existing, for example), or furnish an acknowledgement of the request and a statement of the appropximate date when such request will be granted or denied, etc. in accordance with N.Y. PUB. OFF. LAW § 89 3 (a).

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 6, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Jessica.Sibley

Hi There,

In regards to your FOIL, per our Corporate Counsel, the opinons that you make mention of do no exist. Thank you.
If you have further questions, you can contact Mr. Silverman, who has his information listed below.

Ian H. Silverman, Esq.
Corporation Counsel
Department of Law-City of Troy
City Hall
433 River Street, Suite 5001
Troy, New York 12180
Phone: (518) 279-7136
Fax: (518) 268-1685

November 30, 2013
Troy Records Access Officer
City of Troy, NY
Attention: Records Access Officer
433 River Street
Troy, NY 12180

This is a follow up to a previous request:

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 6, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

---

On Nov. 15, 2013:

New York Penal Code § 195.00 Official misconduct:
"A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, with intent to [...] deprive another person of a benefit: [...] He knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon him by law or is clearly inherent in the nature of his office.
"Official misconduct is a class A misdemeanor."

Benefit: "something that provides an advantage or gain ; specif : an enhancement of property value, enjoyment of facilities, or increase in general prosperity arising from a public improvement". Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law. 1996.

N.Y. PUB. OFF. LAW § 84: "a free society is maintained when government is responsive and responsible to the public [...] The people's right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society. Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of secrecy or confidentiality."

The New York Legislature's declaration is clear; people have a right to know, for example, what led to determinations that the City of Troy may refrain from duties imposed on it by law, duties such as grading and maintaining municipal cemeteries' roads so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon, maintaining any weeds in the city cemeteries at a high of no more than six inches, appointing a city historian, etc., duties the City has quite visibly refrained from performing.

"inasmuch as the city of Troy has established public burial grounds and assumed the responsibility for the care of such sold lots, and received money therefor, it would seem that there should be no hesitation on its part to perform a duty which if not a strictly legal [obligation] is certainly a strong moral obligation due to those who have purchased lots in said cemetery. Public institutions such as this should not be regarded as private speculative enterprises, but should be cared for and kept in order commensurate with the sacredness of the trust involved. Your committee would further report that complaints are made by many of our citizens of the extreme recklessness of the city authorities in general with regard to the condition of the cemeteries over which the city holds jurisdiction; not only Mount Ida, but the Troy burial ground on Ida hill, where lie the remains of many who should be held sacred as our honored dead, who in the early history of this city laid the foundation of an enterprising and prosperous municipality."
Cook, Peter, and Hugh Treanor, Committee on Burial Grounds. "By Ald. Cook, from committee on burial grounds." Troy Daily Times. May 24, 1886: 4 col 4.

Please make the records available (if such opinions as have been requested in fact exist), explicitly deny the request (on the basis of such opinions not existing, for example), or furnish an acknowledgement of the request and a statement of the appropximate date when such request will be granted or denied, etc. in accordance with N.Y. PUB. OFF. LAW § 89 3 (a).

---

On Nov. 12, 2013:

I'm not looking for "legal research." It's a fairly simple request for opinions concerning very specific matters, opinions that either do or do not exist. If they exist, they should be easy to locate given their exceptional nature.

City of Troy Code § 176-16 requires that premises be "graded and maintained so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon or within any building or structure located thereon"; Troy's municipal cemeteries' roads have clearly not been graded in a very long time as some are deeply rutted (at least one road in New Mount Ida Cemetery has even been blocked by a fallen tree large enough to be visible on Google Satellite) and stagnant water accumulates on them. Troy has presumably relied on an opinion of some sort, e.g. a court case, an advisory opinion from the Comptroller, an opinion of some kind from the Corporation Counsel, in order to exempt the city from the requirement of abiding by the City of Troy Code § 176-16.

Troy City Code §§205-1 and 205-2 require, among other things, that weeds not grow to over six inches, but weeds and poison ivy in Troy's municipal cemeteries have grown much higher than that. Troy has presumably relied on an opinion of some sort, e.g. a court case, an advisory opinion from the Comptroller, an opinion of some kind from the Corporation Counsel, in order to exempt the city from the requirements of abiding by the Troy City Code §§205-1 and 205-2.

N.Y. ARTS & CULT. AFF. LAW § 57.07 (1) requires city mayors to appoint a city historian. Troy's mayors have failed to appoint one for over thirty years. Troy's mayors have been presumably relying upon an opinion of some kind, e.g. a court case, an advisory opinion from the Comptroller, an opinion of some kind from the Corporation Counsel, in order to exempt the mayor from the requirement of abiding of N.Y. ARTS & CULT. AFF. LAW § 57.07 (1).

Please inform me of the manner in which records of opinions of that nature are filed, retrieved or generated, or let me know that Troy has no opinions of that kind.

---

On Nov. 8, 2013:

Hi Christopher,

The City of Troy received your FOIL request.

I need you to be more specific in what you're looking for.
Written opinons on what, exactly?

It sounds like you are looking for legal research, which we neither created nor maintain.
Best,

Jessica Sibley
Deputy Director of Public Information
Mayor Lou Rosamilia's Office
433 River Street, Suite 5001
Troy, NY 12180
Cell Phone:(518) 390-4830

---

On Nov. 6, 2013:

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the New York State Freedom of Information Law (1977 N.Y. Laws ch. 933), I hereby request the following records:

The written opinions, if any, upon which the City of Troy has relied that indicate that the City of Troy may neglect the grading and maintenance of the roads in its municipal cemeteries so as to permit stagnant water to accumulate thereon and that the City of Troy may permit weeds, including poison ivy, to grow to well over six inches in its municipal cemeteries despite the apparent violation of the Troy Code (and requirements or recommendations of others, e.g. the NYS Health Department: "Eliminate all standing water on around your home and property where mosquitoes can breed" http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/west_nile_virus/ ), and that the mayor need not appoint a public historian despite the violation of NYS Law that refusing to appoint one for over thirty years would appear to entail.

Ordinarily the Troy Code and New York State Law need to be obeyed, and the Oath of Office sworn and filed by public servants typically requires them to see that the laws are upheld. As the Troy Code and New York State Law are apparently being violated, absent an opinion indicating that they may be freely violated, it would be difficult to understand why those violations aren't being addressed as they should be. Aside from that, leaders should be modeling the behavior they expect and require from others or else be identified as hypocrites:

"There is a revolving door at Troy City Hall that prevents wheelchair users from entering. An adjacent door offers no relief, and there's been no action to remove the barrier. [...] "Gregory Jones, associate counsel to the state Office of the Advocate, said: 'You can't very well go into the private sector and start citing them until you have the government in full compliance.'"
Brown, Cailin. "Disabled Find Roadblocks to City Hall." Albany Times Union. January 15, 1995: A1. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=5756302

Local Historians

N.Y. ARTS & CULT. AFF. LAW § 57.07 (1) makes appointing a local historian a legal obligation, in relevant part: "A local historian shall be appointed, as provided in this section, for each city [...] by the mayor"

"Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia [...] said there's no money in the budget for a historian. He noted that Sheehan and Carroll provide services a city historian would undertake."
Crowe, Kenneth C. "Troy without a key piece of history; City has not had an official historian in 33 years despite state law." Albany Times Union. February 11, 2013: A1. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=21541645

City of Troy Code § C-44 states: "The Mayor shall be the chief executive officer of the City. He/She shall be responsible for the proper administration of all City affairs placed in his/her charge by law" and § C-48 "The Mayor, as the chief executive officer of the City, shall be responsible for the administration of the executive branch of the City government. Specifically it shall be the Mayor's duty: A. To see that the laws of the State of New York and the local laws and ordinances of the Council are enforced within the City; [...] N. To perform such other duties as may be required of him/her under the laws of the State of New York, local laws, ordinances or resolutions of the City and this Charter."

Stagnant water, weeds, poison ivy, etc.

"All premises shall be graded and maintained so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon or within any building or structure located thereon." City of Troy Code § 176-16.

"Whatever is dangerous to human life or health, whatever renders the air or food or water or other drink unwholesome, and whatever building, erection or part or cellar thereof is overcrowded or not provided with adequate means of ingress and egress, or is not sufficiently supported, ventilated, sewered, drained, cleaned or lighted, is hereby declared to be a nuisance and to be illegal and every person having aided in creating or contributing to such nuisance, or who may support, continue or retain any such, shall be seemed guilty of a misdemeanor and also be liable for the expense of the abatement and remedy therefor." Troy City Code §205-1.

"It shall be unlawful for any person owning or holding real estate to allow or maintain on any lot within the corporate limits any growth of weeds to a height over six inches, and such growth of weeds is hereby declared to be a nuisance, injurious to public interests and public health." Troy City Code § 205-2.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

If my request is too broad or does not reasonably describe the records, please contact me via Muckrock.com so that I may clarify my request, and when appropriate inform me of the manner in which records are filed, retrieved or generated.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Christopher Philippo

Filed via MuckRock.com
E-mail (Preferred): requests@muckrock.com

For mailed responses, please address (see note):
MuckRock News
DEPT MR 8720
PO Box 55819
Boston, MA 02205-5819

PLEASE NOTE the new address as well as the fact that improperly addressed (i.e., with the requester's name rather than MuckRock News) requests might be returned by the USPS as undeliverable.

Files

There are no files associated with this request.