December 16, 2014
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.
This is in response to your request for assistance obtaining names, addresses and phone numbers (if possible) of retirees of the Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District, attached.
This will confirm that in May of this year, the Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, ruled that there is no basis in law for an agency to deny access to the names of public employees who retire from local and state agencies in New York, and that therefore, records that identify retired public employees are required to be made available upon request. (Empire Center for New York State Policy v. New York State Teachers' Retirement System, 23 NY3d 438, 991 NYS2d 516 ).
When an agency fails to provide records in response to a request, an applicant has authority to appeal and if the request is still not successful, to appeal to the court. Should a court determine either that an agency had no reasonable basis to deny access or that the agency failed to comply with the statutory time limits for responding to a request, it has discretionary authority to award attorney’s fees to the applicant who substantially prevails.
I hope this is helpful. Should you have any questions, please contact me directly.
Camille S. Jobin-Davis