There’s been an amazing push the past month by newspapers, good government groups, citizens organizations and lawmakers for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would require judges to force government bodies to pay court and attorneys fees when a citizen is unreasonably denied access to a public record.
We’re among those who think this legislation (A2750A/S2392A) is vital to government transparency.
An analysis released by Reinvent Albany earlier this week showed that in about 23 percent of Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) lawsuits, citizens were initially or ultimately denied attorneys’ fees, even when the citizens won their requested records and the agencies had no reasonable basis for denying them.
The governor signing this bill into law will send a message to government bodies at all levels in the state that if they unfairly try to keep public documents a secret, they’ll pay the price.
But even if he signs it, the state still will have a long way to go making itself open and available to citizens.
Despite what we all were taught to believe — that government belongs to the people — many government officials simply don’t see it that way. Read more...