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Timeline & Documents

February, 2012
Cayuga Heights begins soliciting the cooperation of Village residents for its bait and shoot deer killing program, making available consent forms that will allow the Village to carry out various activities connected to deer killing on property owners' land or near their homes.

8/24/12 co-founder Jenny Stein submits a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to Village trustees seeking access to completed permission forms from residents.

Cayuga Heights sends out a mailing with "An Important Request," asking all residents to consider allowing the Village to carry out various activities connected to deer killing on their property or near their homes. The mailing includes a Landowner Consent Agreement which the Village urges residents to complete and return.

Village of Cayuga Heights denies Stein's FOIL request, claiming the records had been "compiled for law enforcement purposes and could if disclosed endanger the life or safety of persons."

Stein's attorney, Trevor DeSane, submits FOIL appeal.

Cayuga Heights Mayor Kate Supron denies FOIL appeal.

At a videotaped Village Board meeting, Mayor Supron indicates that because the owners of approximately 10% of properties in the Village would not allow any deer management activities on their properties, this has eliminated the possibility of obtaining the sites needed to kill deer. Village Attorney Randy Marcus and Village Trustee Robert Andolina reiterate this 10% figure and further imply that a minority of property owners have blocked the deer-killing program from moving forward.

Stein's attorney offers to accept forms with all identifying information about residents redacted (blacked out) as practical solution to alleged concerns about resident safety.

At a videotaped Special Meeting of the Cayuga Heights Board of Trustees, Village Attorney Marcus repeats that "only about a 10% number of property owners did not give permission for culling." Both he and Mayor Supron indicate that the owners of "90 parcels of land" were responsible for eliminating the bait sites needed to implement the deer-killing plan.

A WENY TV news story, titled "Deer Culling Scrapped in Cayuga Heights," reports that "one in ten property owners won't allow killing on their property."

An Ithaca Journal story, titled "Heights Suspends Plan to Cull Deer," reports that "owners of about 90 parcels said they would not allow culling on their property." WXHC reports, "The Village Board of Trustees sent out surveys to the owners of 900 parcels in the Village seeking permission to hunt deer on their property, and while a majority said yeas [sic] 90 property owners said no. The board says even though its only 10% of land in the village firearm restrictions make it impossible for the culling strategy to be successful."

Mayor Supron denies request for redacted forms.

Stein's attorney files Article 78 lawsuit against Cayuga Heights Board of Trustees, claiming that the Village has failed to fulfill its obligations under New York State's Freedom of Information Law.

Cayuga Heights' attorney John Stevens files its answer, including an affidavit from Mayor Supron expressing her intent to personally redact the forms herself.

Stein's attorney files a detailed reply, raising concerns about the inappropriateness of permitting Mayor Supron to redact the forms herself, instead of the Village clerk or a disinterested party, pointing out the potential for politically-motivated suppression of information.

The case is heard before NYS Supreme Court Judge Mulvey.

Judge Mulvey rules in favor of Stein, awards her court expenses to be paid by Cayuga Heights, but allows Mayor Supron to perform redaction herself, instead of the Village Clerk.

Mayor Supron releases 305 redacted forms. Upon examination, Stein’s attorney discovers numerous irregularities, including a substantial number of duplicate forms, several of which display identical signatures from Police Chief James Stienmetz, but placed in different locations on each form within the duplicate pair.

Based on the discovery of substantial irregularities, Stein's attorney notifies Cayuga Heights' attorney of Mayor Supron's failure to comply with the court order.

Stein's attorney sends 2nd request to Cayuga Heights' attorney, asking Mayor Supron to comply with court order.

Mayor Supron releases a second set of documents, containing 76 additional forms that did not appear in original set. The second set of documents reveals that only 25% of Village property owners consented to deer killing activities on or near their properties.

Cayuga Heights' attorney John Stevens offers no explanation for why so many forms were withheld by Mayor Supron, and offers an inadequate explanation for the irregular forms that appeared in first set of documents - forms which bore the same date in the first set, but which he now claims have different dates in the new set.

Judge Mulvey grants award for $7,325.75 to be paid to Stein by Cayuga Heights no later than May 30, 2013, for the legal expenses of this case.

Cayuga Heights fails to comply with court order to pay Stein's legal costs.

An Ithaca Journal article, titled "Heights Deer Population Too High, Researcher Says," reports, "Supron said the village is considering asking landowners again for their permission to shoot deer. About 90 landowners denied the village permission to kill deer on their property during fall 2012."

After a conference call between Judge Mulvey and attorneys for both sides, Cayuga Heights' attorney says Village will pay Stein's court-ordered legal costs by end of day.

Payment of Stein's legal costs is remitted by the Village of Cayuga Heights.


Court Victory Uncovers Evidence Cayuga Heights Mayor and Officals Deceived Public
Published by, June 21, 2013



Irregularities in documents and failure to comply
with court order raise concerns of a cover up

ITHACA, NY—On the heels of a June 13th Ithaca Journal report that Cayuga Heights Mayor Kate Supron may pursue the killing of deer in Village neighborhoods this Fall, a local resident has uncovered evidence that the mayor concealed a lack of resident support for this controversial program.

When the Village abruptly switched from a planned bait-and-shoot deer killing program to a sterilization-only program last December, the mayor explained it was because a small minority—owners of just 90 properties, or approximately 10% of the properties in the Village—would not allow their land to be used for the program. But documents released following a recent court order show the mayor's claims to be grossly misleading. In fact, these newly released documents reveal that the owners of 75% of the properties in the Village withheld permission for killing deer.

The documents in question are “Landowner Consent Agreements” that had been submitted by Village residents during 2012, giving the Village permission to carry out various activities on their land, including baiting deer, killing deer, moving deer carcasses, and discharging deadly weapons within 500 feet of their homes. These consent forms were included in a Sept. 7, 2012 mailing to landowners in the Village, titled “To All Village residents from the Board of Trustees — An Important Request.” The cover letter asked for their support for the deer killing program planned to take place in Village neighborhoods over the Winter of 2012-13, and made it clear that this program depended on the cooperation and participation of Village landowners in order to succeed.

The mayor illegally withholds crucial data upon which public policy is being made.

In a March 29, 2013 ruling, NYS Supreme Court Justice Robert Mulvey ordered the Village of Cayuga Heights to release these forms, which it had been improperly withholding for several months during a time when critical public policy decisions were being made based on the data contained in the forms. To get Mayor Supron to comply with a New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, a lawsuit was brought by attorney Trevor DeSane on behalf of Ithaca resident Jenny Stein, a documentary filmmaker and co-founder of the local citizens’ group, which seeks non-lethal solutions to resolving the community’s deer conflict.

In addition to ordering the Cayuga Heights government to comply with Stein's August, 2012 FOIL request, Judge Mulvey further ordered the Village to pay $7,325 for Stein's attorney’s fees, costs and expenses, finding that Stein had “substantially prevailed” and that Mayor Supron "did not have a ‘reasonable basis for denying access’ to the records in question."

Court documents show that the Village’s non-compliance with Stein’s original FOIL request was based on alleged concerns for residents’ privacy and safety. Yet, when Stein offered to accept the forms with all identifying information “blacked out,” or redacted, her request was denied again for the same reason. In that second denial, Mayor Supron offered no explanation as to how any person’s safety or privacy could be jeopardized by the release of anonymous statistical information.

The mayor insists on personally redacting forms that are in her political interest to censor.

In an affidavit submitted to the Court, Mayor Supron stated that if Stein prevailed in Court, she intended to personally redact the records, “because of the seriousness of this task.” She offered no explanation for why the Village clerk, who normally performs this function, or another disinterested party, could not be entrusted with the task. DeSane argued, “It is inappropriate for [Mayor Supron] to personally redact permission forms whose contents she may plausibly have a strong personal political interest in suppressing.”

Questions of document tampering and a coverup are raised when the mayor returns a grossly incomplete set of forms with startling irregularities that go unexplained.

Following Judge Mulvey’s order, Mayor Supron, who was permitted to redact the documents, released 305 forms. On examination, numerous irregularities were discovered, including 19 duplicate forms, several of which bore the identical signatures of Police Chief James Steinmetz, but in different locations on what were clearly copies of a single landowner's form. The irregularities were substantial enough to raise questions about the legitimacy of the documents, as well as the possibility of tampering.

A complaint filed with Judge Mulvey on April 12th specified these and other irregularities and documented the Village's failure to comply with the court's order. In response, Cayuga Heights’ attorney John Stevens conceded that an incomplete set had been delivered and that the Mayor would now be releasing a substantial number of forms that had previously been withheld. On April 22nd, a total of 362 forms were released, comprised of the 286 non-duplicate forms from the original set plus 76 entirely new forms. Stevens offered no explanation for why Mayor Supron had withheld 21% of the forms despite a clear court order calling for her to release the complete set. Stevens also failed to adequately explain the irregularities involving duplicate forms and the identical signature of Police Chief Steinmetz appearing in different positions on otherwise identical forms.

“The secrecy, repeated non-compliance with the law, and most recently, the question of possible document tampering, only underscores why judicial intervention was needed in this matter,” says Stein.

Village officials propagate the 10% Deception, claiming that a minority of landowners blocked the deer shooting plan, when in fact it was the majority.

Stein says that during two Village Board meetings that she videotaped last November, Mayor Supron and Village Attorney Randy Marcus indicated the shooting plan had been blocked because the owners of 90 properties, or approximately 10% of the 933 residential parcels in the Village, would not allow the killing of deer on their land. Trustee Robert Andolina responded, "We've gotten the community's buy-in to the point where, you know, 10% can change our ability to execute -- and take a tool away from us that [the DEC] are saying is available to us. Well, it's not." [Video excerpts here]

WENY reportStatements by the mayor reported in the media also clearly implied that only a small fraction of property owners were standing in the way of the Village implementing its deer killing plan. A Nov. 20, 2012, WENY TV news story reported that, "One in ten property owners won't allow killing on their property."

The documents released by court-order reveal that 75% of landowners withheld permission for deer to be shot near their homes -- not 10%, as the mayor repeatedly claimed.

But the released documents reveal another story. Not 90, but 130 of the forms Mayor Supron surrendered indicate the landowners’ outright refusal to allow killing on their properties. Additionally, owners of 571 residential properties did not return consent agreements that were mailed to them requesting their participation. These were treated as a denial of permission to kill on their properties, according to Village officials who were directly asked by residents.

In fact, during a period of nearly a year in which Village officials were actively soliciting resident consent in order to move their deer killing program forward, the number of properties whose owners chose not to participate totaled 701, or 75% of all residential properties in the village. Therefore the mayor's representations at meetings and in the media that the owners of 90 properties, or 10% of all properties in the Village, are responsible for blocking the killing program are misleading and inaccurate.

The mayor's persistent flouting of NY's Freedom of Information Law wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars and violated her campaign promise to govern with transparency.

“In my opinion, Mayor Supron is abusing her power and misusing public funds,” says Stein. “She just wasted thousands in an attempt to cover up the fact that she misled the public, and that most Village residents do not want a deer killing program carried out in their neighborhood. Now, she is telling the media she may again pursue killing deer in the Fall. It makes no sense, when 93% of the does have been sterilized and more than $150,000 of tax-payer dollars have already been invested in this non-lethal approach, which has all but ended the community controversy. People have the right to know how little support Mayor Supron actually has for her misguided agenda. That is why has chosen to make this information public.”

Says Stein’s attorney, DeSane, "The New York State Freedom of Information Law clearly states, ‘The people's right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society. Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of secrecy or confidentiality.’ The Supron administration went to extraordinary lengths to arbitrarily withhold access to information that is very clearly in the public interest. When the Village refused our very reasonable offer to accept forms with resident information redacted last November, they went down a path that was not legally defensible. The judge's ruling left no doubt that the Village was breaking both the spirit and the letter of state law in its attempt to impede government transparency in Cayuga Heights."


The Facebook comment below demonstrates how misinformation released by the Cayuga Heights government led members of the media and the public to believe that a small minority, 1 in 10 property owners in Cayuga Heights, had blocked the deer-killing program from moving forward, when in fact it was owners of 75% of the properties in Cayuga Heights. (See original Facebook post here)

WENY FB comment


YNN Video


Contact Attorney Trevor DeSane for further information regarding the lawsuit and the legal issues raised.

Contact spokesperson James LaVeck for questions about the specific aspects of the community situation and the reasons legal action was taken. has made all the permission forms released through the court order, as well as all the papers associated with this lawsuit, available to the public. You can find the most significant documents below, and many others through links on this page.



Article 78 Verified Petition
(DeSane, Feb. 11, 2013)

Respondent’s Verified Answer
(Stevens, Mar. 13, 2013)

Affidavit of Kathryn Supron
(Supron, Mar. 13, 2013)

Petitioner’s Verified Reply
(DeSane, Mar. 14, 2013)

New York State Supreme Court Decision and Order
(Mulvey, Mar. 29, 2013)

Notice of Noncompliance with Court Order
(DeSane, Apr 12, 2013)

Second Request for Compliant Records
(DeSane, Apr 19, 2013

Explanation of Document Irregularities and New Release
(Stevens, Apr 22, 2013)

Judge's Notice of Fee Request Granted
(Mulvey, Apr 29, 2013)