March 18, 2005

Freedom of Information in Dryden

This morning's Ithaca Journal devotes its entire editorial page to New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), which gives citizens access to government documents at the state and local levels, complementing the federal government's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). They have four pieces on the subject:

  • Their editorial provides an overview of FOIL, arguing that "while it is true that state and federal versions of a freedom of information law cannot alone make government perfect, they do make the public sector more accountable for the simple reason that it cannot hide information as well as it could in the past."
  • Dryden resident Kathy Zahler has a guest column about the importance of open government. She cites last week's Dryden Courier for its discussions of the Dryden Town Board and Dryden Central School District's questionable uses of executive session, and says:

    Dryden Town and School Board members may well believe that they have met these criteria, and perhaps they have. I don't know; I wasn't allowed in the room, and neither were you....

    We need to believe that our views carry some weight at the local level. The Open Meetings Law is not designed to inconvenience or embarrass legislators. It's there to let the rest of us retain some semblance of control.

  • The Journal asked local governments about the FOIL requests they had received over the last year. The Town of Dryden reported 32 formal requests, the Village of Freeville one, and the Village of Dryden zero. That last one bothers me, as I know I filed a formal request and got a document from the Village for this April story.

  • There's a piece on ways citizens use FOIL requests, including an example by Nick Bellisario of Dryden:

    Nick Bellisario of Dryden utilized the FOIL process when he was seeking a variance in order to build a mini-storage facility on Triphammer Road in Lansing. The project never came to pass, but Bellisario said that, at least, the Freedom of Information Law enabled him to obtain documentation.

    "It's good to have," Bellisario said. "We did go and made copies of everything that was going on. It definitely helped our lawyer get the information that he needed."

They also have three articles on FOIL, one introducing the FOIL law, one describing how FOIL can be used, and one describing the process for getting documents under FOIL.

Two Dryden events are listed in Briefly in Tompkins:

  • Dryden High School will be presenting a performance of "Bye, Bye, Birdie" tonight and Saturday at 7:00pm.

  • The Dryden Town Historical Society will be having a Photo History Day at the Dryden History House (map) from 10:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday.

Posted by simon at March 18, 2005 8:12 AM in , , , ,
Note on photos