Village hears FOIL?appeal

Gwen Chamberlain

Village resident Robert Hawley will receive some documents he was previously denied through the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

Some members of the Penn Yan Village Board met briefly Monday morning to consider Hawley’s appeal of a decision by Village Clerk/Treasurer Shawna Wilbert to not release the documents.Trustees Nancy Taylor, Robert Hoban and Michael D’Abbracci were absent.

The FOIL request submitted by Hawley sought “any logs, documents, arrest reports, etc. concerning Sean Allison’s arrest for leaving the scene of an accident and an open container on Feb. 13, 2009.”

Sean Allison is the son of Vice Mayor Willie Allison, one of the board members who voted on the appeal Monday.

“I wanted to see how the police acted in this case,” said Hawley in a phone conversation after the meeting. “I want to see how long it took them to get to the scene.”

All the board members present on Monday, including Willie Allison, voted to release the accident report and the computer documents listing the three traffic tickets issued by Penn Yan Village Police the night of the incident.

On Wednesday, March 25, Allison further explained his decision to vote in favor of releasing the documents. "I felt I should abstain because it involved my child. But if I did (abstain), there wouldn't be enough votes to grant it, and it would have dragged on," he said.

Wilber had denied the request in February because there was an open investigation involved with the case.

Village attorney Ed Brockman noted that judicial records are not subject to FOIL, but accident reports and traffic tickets are part of the public record and are used for other purposes than as court documents.

In the vote, Willie Allison initially said he would oppose granting Hawley access to the information, but then changed his vote to an “aye,” and commented that he didn’t feel it was any of Hawley’s business.

The police department issued a news release on Feb. 13 about the property damage accident that led to Sean Allison being charged with leaving the scene of an accident and having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the vehicle.