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Betsy Combier

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The E-Accountability Foundation announces the

'A for Accountability' Award

to those who are willing to whistleblow unjust, misleading, or false actions and claims of the politico-educational complex in order to bring about educational reform in favor of children of all races, intellectual ability and economic status. They ask questions that need to be asked, such as "where is the money?" and "Why does it have to be this way?" and they never give up. These people have withstood adversity and have held those who seem not to believe in honesty, integrity and compassion accountable for their actions. The winners of our "A" work to expose wrong-doing not for themselves, but for others - total strangers - for the "Greater Good"of the community and, by their actions, exemplify courage and self-less passion. They are parent advocates. We salute you.

Winners of the "A":

Johnnie Mae Allen
David Possner
Dee Alpert
Aaron Carr
Harris Lirtzman
Hipolito Colon
Larry Fisher
The Giraffe Project and Giraffe Heroes' Program
Jimmy Kilpatrick and George Scott
Zach Kopplin
Matthew LaClair
Wangari Maathai
Erich Martel
Steve Orel, in memoriam, Interversity, and The World of Opportunity
Marla Ruzicka, in Memoriam
Nancy Swan
Bob Witanek
Peyton Wolcott
[ More Details » ]
New York State Governor George Pataki Signs New Freedom of Information Law

Pataki signs Freedom of Information bill into law
The Associated Press


ALBANY -- Gov. George Pataki on Tuesday signed into law a bill requiring the government to provide public information faster to those who make requests.

Pataki and lawmakers said the law will end delays by local and state government officials in releasing public information under the state Freedom of Information Law.

The measure requires the government to grant or deny a written request within 20 days of its receipt. If the release of data must be delayed, the government must identify a date that records will be provided. Failure to follow the new rule would be considered a denial of a Freedom of Information Law request, and that could lead to civil court action.

Previously, state and local governments could take months or years to release documents to the public. A FOIL request filed by The Associated Press in 2000 seeking records of proven cases of cheating by teachers from the state Education Department wasn't answered for three years. Another filed by The AP with the State University of New York for compensation, world travel and other expenses of the chancellor went unanswered for 10 months.

"It's often said, 'access delayed is access denied,"' said Patricia Beck, chairwoman of the New York Newspaper Publishers Association, which helped lead the effort to make New York government more open. "This new law will help to make 'access delayed' a thing of the past."

Lawmakers, however, exempted themselves from much of the law.

"The Legislature is not an issue in regards to this bill," said state Sen. Nicholas Spano, who sponsored the legislation. "Everything we do already is subject to freedom of information."

He said that if problems arise with gaining access to Senate and Assembly information, a separate bill will be introduced to cover the Legislature.

RoAnn Destito, the sponsor of the bill in the Assembly, said her house has passed a freedom of information bill that covers the Legislature.

The bill was signed on the same day public watchdog and other groups were lobbying lawmakers for more reform in state government. Legislative leaders have targeted lobbying, the budget process, the awarding of state contracts and public authorities as major areas in need of reform

New York Gov. Signs Bill Strengthening Freedom of Information Law
May 05, 2005 By News Staff


On Tuesday, New York Governor George E. Pataki announced that he has signed legislation into law that will strengthen New York State's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). The new law sets specific new timeframe requirements that will provide clarity and guidance to local governments and State agencies and make the Freedom of Information Law even stronger.

"We have worked hard to make government as open and transparent as possible, and this legislation will make New York's Freedom of Information Law even stronger and ensure that local governments and State agencies respond promptly to requests for information," Governor Pataki said. "We are proud of our efforts to promote an open and responsive government and will continue to look for additional ways to make government more accountable to New Yorkers."

Senator Nicholas Spano said, "This new law will provide those making FOIL requests with greater clarity and guidance than the law does as it currently stands. At the same time, we are promoting an open government process and letting the public and the working press know that government is here to work with them and for the public good. I commend Governor Pataki for his commitment to reform and for signing this bill into law."

Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, chair of the Assembly Governmental Operations Committee said, "A democracy requires that all citizens can obtain information about their government. This legislation, which we championed in the Assembly, will strengthen our Freedom of Information Laws so that the public's requests for information can not be ignored. This bill clearly establishes that all FOIL requests filed with a State agency deserve and will receive a response and not be bottled up by a loophole in the law."

Diane Kennedy, President of the New York Newspaper Publishers Association, said, "This new law will provide certainty to citizens and journalists when they seek access to public documents. Although the majority of government agencies take their disclosure responsibilities seriously, a few have effectively denied access by delaying their responses to requests, sometimes for months or even years. By signing this legislation, Governor Pataki has closed a major loophole in the Freedom of Information law which allowed agencies to evade their responsibility to provide prompt public access to documents."

Secretary of State Randy A. Daniels, who's office oversees the Committee on Open Government, said, "As a journalist and as Secretary of State, I know how important it is to provide information to the media and the public in a timely fashion. Under Governor Pataki's leadership, New York's Freedom of Information Law will continue to set the highest standards in the nation."

The current Freedom of Information Law provides that a government body must respond in writing to a FOIL request in five business days and either provide the requested documents, deny the request, or estimate a time for when a response will be made.

Under the new law signed by the Governor today, agencies must provide an approximate date that is reasonable under the circumstances. If an agency determines that it will be granting a FOIL request -- but is unable to provide the records within 20 business days after sending an initial acknowledgement letter -- the agency must state in writing the reason(s) it cannot grant the request within the 20 days and provide a specific date when the request will be granted. If an agency fails to abide by these new requirements, the request will be deemed denied and the requestor will have the right to appeal under the current FOIL.

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation