AJ Carter Responds To The Recording

Filed under: Around Town,INVESTIGATIONS,News,Politics |

(Letter from AJ Carter to the Huntingtonian)

To the Huntingtonian:

I must ask that you correct willful inaccuracies in your article about the message left on the telephone of your editor, Nicholas Wieland.

In particular, at 1:07 into the recording, you will hear me say, clearly and unambiguously, “Frank wants me to respond to these FOILs right away.” This is the exact opposite of what you state the tape says. I ask that you retract this falsehood immediately. Failure to do so will be evidence of malice as defined by the law.

Furthermore, the recording also demonstrates that the discussion centered on the considerable efforts being taken to fulfill your FOIL request. On October 12, 2011, you were notified that the 220 pages of documents responsive to your request were available for review, for free, at Town Hall during regular business hours. You could then choose — as other citizens frequently do when they feel they cannot afford the cost of reproducing the entire FOIL — which, if any, copies you wish to purchase at the standard 25 cents per page rate, or to purchase the entire 220 pages. To date, you have not contacted me about either of those options the Town offers.

In the case of your most recent FOIL, files are being retrieved from archives to obtain the requested records on more than 300 properties. On October 21, you were updated on the progress of the request and the approximate cost of the documents and asked whether you wished to modify the request in light of that. To date, you have not responded.

I must demand that in the future, the Huntingtonian refrain from publishing false and libelous claims and that if it wishes to be considered a journalistic enterprise, that it adhere to accepted journalistic standards of accuracy and fairness.

AJ Carter
Public Information Officer

Below is the transcript of the part of the recording that AJ is referring to and the full recording is here: Voice Message About FOIL Request

AJ Carter: “There are 2 things.  Thing one is Frank wants me to respond to get the FOILs done right away now, not take our maximum time. But ahh you know they (sigh), It’s not News stuff whatever you give them they they they spin and put other stuff on and don’t take facts.  and er but,I think, I hope that basically they’re talking to themselves”. 

This is the e-mail exchange between AJ Carter and The Huntingtonian regarding the options with the FOIL

(The Huntingtonian wrote to AJ Carter)

From: editor@thehuntingtonian.com [mailto:editor@thehuntingtonian.com]
Sent: Friday, October 21, 2011 12:57 PM
To: AJ Carter
Subject: FOIL Request

Hi AJ,

I checked with the Town Clerk’s office and you should not be charging us for FOIL requests that are scanned in and e-mail’ed. Please send us the scanned and e-mail documents that we requested ASAP. In addition, several of our FOIL requests have either not been answered or only partially answered. We would appreciate a prompt response of the information. I trust that you have the FOIL requests available and are aware of what you still owe us. Thank you in advance for your response.

 

(AJ Responded to the Huntingtonian)

Subject: RE: FOIL Request
From: “AJ Carter”
To:

The Town Clerk’s office is apparently misinformed. As I noted in the e-mail to you, I received an opinion from Robert Freeman, executive director of the Committee on Open Government, the state agency that oversees the FOIL, about whether the per-page fee still applies. I cited from his opinion in my e-mail to you. If you want, you can contact him directly:

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
Committee on Open Government
One Commerce Plaza
Suite 650
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
518-474-2518

I have also forwarded Freeman’s opinion to the Town Clerk’s office so there is no confusion in the future.

The only other outstanding FOIL is the one involving accessory apartments in non-owner occupied houses. This is a lengthy request, involving approximately 300 properties, that will take us some time to compile. We estimate that this request will produce four pages of records for each property, totaling approximately 1,200 pages. We estimate the copying fee will be $300 — whether you want it in paper or scanned and e-mailed .pdf form. Please advise if, based on that information, you wish the Town to proceed with this request, or if you wish to modify it.

AJ

 (The Huntingtonian Responded back to AJ Carter)

Hi AJ,

There were other FOIL requests that were not answered. I will give them to you again. I do not have time now, I will do it over the weekend. I will follow up with Mr. Freeman. For the record, I find it very challenging everytime I request information from Town Hall, unless it is going through the Town Clerk’s office. I have never received complete information on the first attempt. It becomes very time consuming.

Other requests for information :

FOIL 1

(From the Huntingtonian to AJ Carter)

Date: Mon, Sep 26, 2011 10:28 am
To: “AJ Carter”

Hi AJ,

How much money was used for the purchase and improvements of 1264 -1266 New York Avenue from the Community Development Block Grant Funds? What was the total price paid to aquire the property? How many apartments are located in the property? How many bedrooms are in each apartment? What agency collects the rent?

Thanks,

(AJ Carter’s response to us)

From: “AJ Carter”
Date: Wed, September 28, 2011 8:44 am

I see that you have posted an article on the Huntingtonian and no longer need this information.

(Our response back to AJ)

Date: Wed, Sep 28, 2011 9:09 am
To: “AJ Carter”

I still need the information.

If you read the article, you will see that the information I have requested was not included in the article. Approximately, when can I expect to receive this information?

(AJ Carter’s response to us, 1 week later)

Subject: RE: FOIL Request
From: “AJ Carter”
Date: Wed, October 05, 2011 2:04 pm
In response to your request, which was not filed as a FOIL, we are compiling the information and will provide it to you as soon as it is available. I estimate this could take up to 15 business days.

(The Huntingtonian responded to AJ Carter)

Date: Thu, Oct 06, 2011 7:21 am

I will take any part of it that is ready.  I was told that you have already been given the information.  What part of the FOIL will take 15 days to obtain and why?

(AJ Carter responded to the Huntingtonian)

I originally though it would take us time to compile some of the information, However, it was just made available to me.

1) A total of $1 million was used to purchase and renovate 1264-1268 New York Avenue. None of this was Town money. The funding came from a combination of Federal, State and County sources. I do not yet have the breakdown of how much of this, if any, was CDBG money; I know that some of the federal money was from ARRA, the federal stimulus bill, for the incubator renovations.

2) The purchase price was $100,000.

3) There are two, three-bedroom apartments

4) CDA collects the rent

5) From January 2009 to October 2011, $74,157.60 has been collected in rent.

AJ

AJ Carter never answered how much of this money was taken from the Community Development Block Grant

 

#2 (This was a follow up question to a press release that was sent, it was never acknowledged)

Subject: RE: Huntington Town Opens Small Business Resource and Recovery Center

Wasn’t this facility supposed to be on NY Avenue? If so, why did the location change?

 

FOIL #3 (Requested 3 times):

We would like a list of non-owner occupied homes that received money from the CDA from 2004 to present and what was it for?  Please include property owner and vendor used. (This FOIL request was handed to Doug Aloise and we were told by Doug that he was going to forward the request to AJ Carter, that was on October 4, 2011)

Request for Information #4 (sent on November 1, never acknowledged)

Hi AJ,

I am trying to confirm reports that Lowes is pulling out of the project on Jericho Tpke in Huntington Station.  Is this correct?  Any details wouldbe appreciated.

 The above is not the complete list of requests for information that have not been answered

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2 Responses to AJ Carter Responds To The Recording

  1. The fact that AJ Carter states “Frank wants me to respond to get the FOILs done right away now, not take our maximum time” indicates that “taking the maximum time” is something that has either been employed in the past, or is a possible alternative. This in itself is legally incriminating since the Freedom of Information Law states that government is supposed to provide the information expeditiously, without a fake, deliberate, built-in delay to stall the release of the information. Shame on the incumbant Town Council for spending precious taxpayer dollars in this econonmy to employ these kinds of hacks whose primary purpose is spin and positive publicity/ image promotion. This PR machine needs to be dismantled.

    Enos Throop
    November 5, 2011 9:09 am at 9:09 am

  2. Pingback: Corruption in Huntington, Everytown USA, & It’s on Tape | Independent Sentinel

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