| || |
Arrogance in government- is everywhere.
May 3, 2011 - Pat Beck
Just sharing. Read this article in the Journal News.
The state Office of Court Administration is delaying a Freedom of Information Law request from The Journal News seeking proposed budget cuts in local courts. OCA spokesman David Bookstaver said that releasing such documents would "make a mess of things" and could unnecessarily alarm court employees. "We're going to jerk you around on this as much as we possibly can," he told a reporter Wednesday. "We're going to delay and delay and delay as much as we possibly can." The OCA oversees and funds all New York courts: from village courts to the state's top legal body, the Court of Appeals. The newspaper submitted a FOIL request April 11 for two records: a directive from Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau asking for proposed spending reductions in the 9th Judicial District, and district Administrative Judge Alan Scheinkman's response to her directive. The 9th District covers Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess and Orange counties. On April 14, OCA Assistant Deputy Counsel Shawn Kerby sent an email saying that finding the correspondence between the judges would take a "few weeks." "Please be advised that we are reviewing our records to determine what, if any, records exist and are subject to disclosure under FOIL," she wrote. "We anticipate that the process will require a few weeks, at which time we will respond to your request completely." When reminded of the FOIL provision requiring government agencies to set a date — not to exceed 20 business days — to approve or deny a FOIL request, she balked. "Our response estimating a few weeks to process your FOIL request is reasonable and consistent with Public Officers Law 89(3)," she wrote. "This Office processes numerous FOIL requests on a daily basis. The estimated time for a response to a FOIL request is not exclusively determined by the type or volume of records requested." Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, said Kerby was violating FOIL by not giving a specific date to comply. "The Freedom of Information Law includes a statement of intent, to make records available whenever and wherever available," he said. "If it's clear that a record is public and easy to find, there is no good reason for delaying disclosure." State lawmakers slashed OCA's budget by $170 million, or roughly 6.3 percent, leaving court administrators to figure out how to absorb the cuts. Officials have said the smaller budget would mean layoffs and less funding for court-related programs, such as child-care centers in courthouses. Already, courthouses have been ordered to close 30 minutes earlier, at 4:30 p.m., to reduce overtime costs. Bookstaver said other journalists have requested financial information about potential cuts in other judicial districts, but OCA doesn't want districts comparing recommendations for cuts when the numbers aren't final. "Basically, this is all in flux," he said. When told the newspaper was carrying a story about the willful delay, Bookstaver denied such a move. "We're not intentionally delaying it," he said. "We're using the time that we have."
Post a Comment
News, Blogs & Events Web