County clerks frustrated with SAFE Act provision

TROY, N.Y. – Thousands of public record exemption forms stemming from the New York SAFE Act are piling up at County Clerk offices. The NEWS CENTER spoke with two clerks who say the problem seems never-ending.

“I don't need a Governor to tell me what to do or how to do my job,” said Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola.

Merola said he is angry after Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press conference Monday, where he stated that Merola was not upholding the law.

Merola said it was nearly impossible to file the more than 2,000 forms he had received from pistol permit holders looking to seal their records, as required by the SAFE Act.

“The records are sealed,” Merola said. “There's no way that someone can come in and FOIL any information as far as pistol permits in my office until I've completed the task and it's going to take a long time for me to complete that task.”

Merola said that it shouldn't be a surprise if the box full of forms is still not filed by next year.
Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner says she, like Merola, does not have enough time or staff to keep up with the forms.

“We have to get them the form, we have to get the form back, and then we have to go through the form to file them,” Tanner said.

Governor Cuomo has said there is no deadline for when the forms need to be filed. 

“They're at the bottom of my list, very bottom,” Merola said.

Merola said that until he can get around to filing the forms, all pistol permit records will remain sealed.

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