Blank Slate awaiting answer on FOIA request filed in March with town

Janelle Clausen
The Town so far has requested two extensions for a FOIA request pertaining to Robert Troiano and Curran staffers.
The Town so far has requested two extensions for a FOIA request pertaining to Robert Troiano and Curran staffers.

The Town of North Hempstead has not yet provided information requested in March pertaining to correspondence between Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s staff and town officials regarding Robert Troiano.

The town said Tuesday that it was still working on the request.

Blank Slate Media filed a Freedom of Information request for records of “all email correspondence between town officials and members of Laura Curran’s campaign and administration, specifically relating to Robert Troiano, since Nov. 7, 2017” – or Election Day last year – on March 9.

Curran’s team appointed Troiano, a former adviser to Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, to serve as the commissioner for traffic and parking violations in Nassau County. He served as the agency’s acting commissioner, but resigned in January a day before his confirmation hearing following news that he had undisclosed tax liens.

Troiano has maintained that the tax liens had nothing to do with his resignation.

Troiano, who once served on the Town Board, left the town in 2010 to join the Nassau County Legislature before ultimately returning to work in the town in 2014. In that time he accumulated $81,533 in federal income tax liens, according to Newsday, and had a $749,264 lien on a house he owned facing foreclosure.

Blank Slate Media previously reported that in a 2014 financial statement Troiano failed to list the liens and that the town appeared to confirm Troiano failed to list federal tax liens in at least one financial disclosure statement.

The town attorney’s office acknowledged receipt of the request on March 16 and said the town was “researching the requested information,” would notify Blank Slate “as to whether there are any responsive records subject to disclosure” and estimated it could have an answer to the request within 20 business days.

On April 13 Blank Slate Media received a letter stating the town attorney’s office had “done some searching” and required more time to answer the request, estimating it could have a response in 20 business days.

Blank Slate Media received a second extension letter on May 11, which differed only in the date received, saying another 20 days are needed to fulfill the request.

Robert Freeman, the executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, said the town “can only delay twice” and beyond that it is required by law to set a certain date by which it will make the documents available “in whole or in part.”

But, Freeman noted, the town should be able to extract the necessary information with today’s technology.

“It’s not hard,” he said.

When asked on Tuesday if there is a reason for the delay, like the quantity of information or a need to narrow the request, a representative from the town attorney’s office said, “It’s just a matter of us working on it,” and the request will be fulfilled.

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