Yonkers, NY — Yonkers Third District Councilmember Joan Gronowski is requesting the Inspector General to undertake a review of the City of Yonkers Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to determine if Yonkers is in compliance with the timely release of information, consistent with FOIL requirements.
Gronowski stated, “through the years, I have had numerous FOIL requests ignored, received responses beyond the timeframe allowed by FOIL requirements, or, in many cases, was provided with information I did not request, with the City of Yonkers taking the position that my request had been fulfilled. As a member of the Yonkers City Council, constituents who have received similar treatment when submitting valid FOIL requests have contacted me. Furthermore, department heads are instructed not to communicate or provide vital information to the Council unless the requests are made through the Mayor’s office,” Gronowski pointed out. .
Continuing, Gronowski stated, “If a member of the city council is often unsuccessful in receiving FOIL documents in accordance with state statutes, I can imagine how difficult it is for the general public to have access to this information.”
Article 6 of the New York State Public Officers Law provides for public access to government records. This statute, commonly referred to as the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), applies to local government entities, and states, in part, that “a free society is maintained when government is responsive and responsible to the public, and when the public is aware of governmental actions. The more open a government is with its citizenry, the greater the understanding and participation of the public in government”.
The FOIL law further states that, “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”, further noting, “that government is the public's business and that the public, individually and collectively and represented by a free press, should have access to the records of government in accordance with the provisions of this article”.
Gronowski’s request to the Inspector General will be submitted to the Rules Committee which is to reconvene September 1, 2009 at 6:30 PM in Yonkers City Hall, 4th Floor.