Saturday, December 29, 2007

Assistant City Attorney Sondel Responds on Behalf of City Attorney Nickerson to "FOIL" Request for Records Related to NTHS Bomb Threats

The Standards: Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL") REQUEST FOR RECORDS.

The Truths:
Although City of North Tonawanda City Attorney's Office has been prompt in its response to the "FOIL" Request for Records, by letter dated December 27, 2007, North Tonawanda Assistant City Attorney Robert Sondel responds to my correspondence dated 21 December 2007, to City Attorney Shawn Nickerson, regarding an apparent failure to comply with "FOIL" Request for Records:

"Dear Ms. Mangus:

In response to your letter dated 12/21/07, regarding the City's response to your FOIL request, please be advised that the information provided to you was the only information provided to this office from the North Tonawanda Police Department. Recordings of telephone conversations are kept by the City for 30 days only, so those are no longer in existence. Also, the NTPD states that there are no photos to correspond with your request, although we asked that they check again to be sure.

Lastly, the Manual for Standard Operating Procedures and Rules and Regulations for the North Tonawanda Police Department could be provided to you at a cost of $85.75 (343 pages at $.25 each).

We have not denied any part of your request, but have provided to you the information that is still available. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact this office.

Very truly yours,

Robert Sondel/a
Assistant City Attorney"

Chief Szukala, NTPD was copied on Assistant City Attorney Robert Sondel's correspondence.

Assistant City Attorney Sondel, conveys NTPD "states that there are no photos to correspond with your request,..." yet there is evidence that photographs were in fact taken of the crime scenes by North Tonawanda Police Detective Captain Hall and Detective Kalota on October 7, 2005 and by Lieutenant Mahoney on October 11, 2005. Therefore, consistent with "FOIL", the City must provide an explanation as to why the information is no longer available.

Evidence gathered at crime scenes can not simply be destroyed by the agency. If the photographs taken of the crime scenes by Detective Captain Hall and Detective Kalota on October 7, 2005 and, again in a separate bomb threat, on October 11, 2005 by Lieutenant Mahoney were in fact destroyed, the agency must state this in writing and include the date of and authority for such destruction.

Furthermore, Assistant City Attorney Sondel's correspondence fails to provide an explanation as to why "No Report [Was] Required" for an alleged bomb threat occurring at North Tonawanda High School on 12 October 2005.

The correspondence also fails to provide an explanation for the apparent over-charge by City of North Tonawanda Office of the City Attorney for the cost of copying records ($11.25/11 pages) and, Assistant City Attorney Sondel fails to provide the name, address and email address, of the person or body to whom an appeal can be directed.

The foregoing information has again been requested by letter dated 28 December 2007 to Assistant City Attorney Sondel; City Attorney Nickerson was copied.

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