Article 78 FOIL Request – Reply Papers

After filing a petition on a Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) Request, the State, through one of the attorneys in the Attorney General’s office, will respond to you. Then you will submit a reply affirmation.  It is amazing the amount of effort that is often put in trying to protect documents that have no real confidential information in them.

In the reply affirmation I filed, I addressed the government’s arguments.  Even if you’ve never completed one of these papers before, you won’t be facing a legal wizard. Most likely the attorney who is working on your case has hundreds of other similar boilerplate filings to make and won’t pay much attention to nuances of argument.

The crux of the FOIL request was to obtain emails sent by the law firm of Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Those emails, which are included in the document below, were from an alleged tenant at 55 West 14th Street (Courtney House), New York, New York, 10011.  This person claims to have seen a squirrel outside of the window of Bernard Goetz.  The distance between this person’s apartment and Goetz’s is approximately 100 feet.  Here is what the person had to say:


I’m a tenant of the 9th floor at Courtney House (front building) and yesterday a friend and I spotted a large squirrel climbing up and down a piece of stained glass that is on the window ledge in an apartment across the courtyard.  I could not believe my eyes. I thought- “maybe it’s a cat, maybe it’s even a ferret,” but after seeing it make over 5 loops of the piece of stained glass, we can both confirm that it was absolutely a squirrel.

My friend and I immediately called the front desk to let them know what was happening.  They said they would let management know and that management would deal with it.

I pay a lot of money to live in Courtney House, and just recently moved in.  Had I known about this situation, I would never have picked this building.  It is unfair to tenants that we should have to see squirrels climbing in the windows of neighboring apartments.  It’s disgusting and disturbing, and we shouldn’t have to put up with this.

Please let me know if I can provide any additional information. I appreciate your efforts to resolve this situation.

–End of Email–

I was provided that email in a redacted format. Obviously I wanted the unredacted emails.  However, even though I requested the unredacted emails, I was provided the name of this person from my own confidential sources.

The person’s name is Christie Cunningham McNeil.  Apparently Christie McNeil believed she saw a squirrel – quelle horreur! – near the window of Bernard Goetz. Ms. McNeil was so terrified that she immediately contacted the building front-desk to save her from having to see a squirrel climbing outside an apartment building in Manhattan.

Christie Cunningham McNeil pays “a lot of money to live in Courtney House” and according to her, should not have to see any wildlife if she chooses. When did the sensibilities of people become so extreme that seeing an animal in public was cause to pen a screed such as this? What kind of sheltered life would cause a person to react in such horror to possibly seeing a squirrel in New York City?

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