NY State: Sweeping law secretly combats zombie homes

A new state law that requires banks to report and secure abandoned houses has been hailed as sweeping legislation for combating blight, but the most sweeping aspect of the law may be a section that keeps the information secret.

The so-called “zombie properties” law requires the Department of Financial Services to keep a registry of vacant properties. But DFS must treat the information as confidential, exempt it from the state Freedom of Information Law and restrict access even to elected officials.


Bill de Blasio’s Record on Transparency Brings Criticism

Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to increase transparency at New York City Hall, but his actions on a number of fronts this year have drawn criticism from government watchdogs and fellow Democrats.

Mr. de Blasio is now involved in two court fights to keep emails under wraps, and his administration has adopted a policy that shields police disciplinary records from the public.

The mayor has also reduced the number of news conferences in which journalists can question him and failed to fulfill a promise to disclose when top officials meet with lobbyists.


NYC: Mayor Says He Is Prepared to Go to Court to Keep Emails Between Himself, ‘Agents of the City’ Out of Public Eye

Mayor Bill de Blasio says he is prepared to go to court to fight a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by NY1 and the New York Post.

The battle centers on the mayor’s refusal to release emails with five outside advisers known as "agents of the city."



Pols, activists join legal battle over revealing any actions against cop who choked Eric Garner

Pull back the curtain! So says a group of elected officials and activist groups that will file briefs Tuesday in support of a two-year legal battle to get the city to release the disciplinary records of the cop who fatally choked Eric Garner back in 2014, organizers said.

The effort is being mounted by Garner's mother Gwen Carr, members of the City Council, Public Advocate Letitia James and Communities United for Police Reform, a nonprofit dedicated to greater police accountability.


Mayor Elect de Blasio: Set NYPD records free!

From MuckRock: The New York Police Department’s animus toward Freedom of Information requests is legendary, and mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has been one of the department’s most outspoken critics. As de Blasio takes the City Hall reins, transparency advocates have a tremendous opportunity. But if you want real reform, hold de Blasio to his watchdog roots.


A 30-month legal fight to conceal e-mails about a 95-day schools chancellor

From the New York Times:  If you have lost three consecutive times in court on the same legal fight, with not a single judge giving you the time of day, and one of them saying that your main argument is “particularly specious,” what would you do?

If you’re the City of New York, it’s simple: file another brief with another court. And lose yet again.



FOIA may face changes: Proposed bill would give exemption to concealed weapons carriers

From Journal-News.net:

CHARLESTON – Currently in West Virginia, the names and addresses of concealed weapons licensees is public information. But a bill introduced to the House of Delegates on Tuesday could change that.

HB2911 proposes to exempt from the Freedom of Information Act records pertaining to the issuance, renewal, expiration, suspension or revocation of a license to carry a concealed weapon, according to the legislation.