Saugerties withholds names of people who applied for town judgeship
SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — The town has rejected a request to release the names of all the people who applied to become town justice after Wendy Ricks announced her resignation.
The municipality is not required to release those names, but the Freeman nonetheless submitted a Freedom of Information request last week asking for the identities of the seven candidates.
On Tuesday, town Supervisor Kelly Myers denied the request.
“I checked with our town attorney, John Greco, regarding your request,” Myers said in an email. “John has given me the opinion that we do not have to release the information regarding the resumes and applicant names for the town justice appointment.”
Myers said Greco cited case law and an opinion from the state Committee on Open Government.
Robert Freeman, executive director of the Committee on Open Government, confirmed the decision Thursday. He said the municipality has “no obligation to disclose the names” per Section 89, Subsection 7 of the state Freedom of Information Law. Freeman said the town is allowed to provide the information but does not have to. (That portion of the Freedom of Information Law can be viewed here.)
Freeman Managing Editor Tony Adamis said the town should have made the names public.
“Whether the town is legally obligated to identify the candidates for town justice is not the issue and should not be the controlling factor in the supervisor’s response to our request for information,” Adamis said. “The position of town justice is normally filled by voters. It’s in the public interest to know who presented themselves to the Town Board as candidates for the bench and what their qualifications were so that voters can judge for themselves the performance of the Town Board in filling the vacancy.”
On May 11, the Town Board voted 4-1 during a special meeting to appoint Claudia Andreassen to serve as town justice through Dec. 31, 2012. Ricks stepped down from the bench to take a job with the Ulster County Department of Social Services.
Saugerties Councilman Fred Costello cast the lone vote against appointing Andreassen, stating he would have preferred to appoint an attorney. After the vote, Ricks also expressed concern with a non-attorney being appointed because that person would not be able to assume the bench until taking required classes. Continued...
Andreassen served as an Ulster County probation officer from 1986 to 2011 and has been a licensed real estate broker since 1981.
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