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Many counties violate FOIL policies

Jul 22, 2022 2:01 pm

Alex Gault reports for Columbia Greene Media that a new report from New York’s Coalition for Open Government finds that many New York counties are violating Freedom of Information Law requirements and some are failing to enforce proper email communication policies for their officials. The Coaltion tested 18 counties and found that 39 percent didn’t respond correctly, or sometimes at all, to requests for information from the public. “Only 61% of the counties we sent a FOIL request to acknowledged that request within 5 business days,” said Paul Wolf, president of the Coalition for Open Government. “So, 61% compliance is pretty disappointing. FOIL has been in effect in New York for 45 years now, and it’s not hard to acknowledge a request within 5 business days.” Locally, Rensselaer and Schoharie counties never responded appropriately to the Coalition’s FOIL request for their elected official email policies. Rensselaer County officials also ignored the follow-up email from the Coalition. Delaware County officials, the survey found, were following the law properly. Delaware and Schoharie county officials did not list their legislators’ email addresses publicly, the survey also found. New York has no mechanism to enforce its Open Meetings or Freedom of Information laws. “No one will be held accountable, no one will be reprimanded for failure to comply, no fines will be imposed,” Wolf said. “The only recourse for our organization or for others is to go hire an attorney and file a lawsuit, and that’s just not a realistic way to enforce the law.” Read more about this story at HudsonValley360.com.

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