Public Information
Public Information

 

"Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants;"Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, "What Publicity Can Do," Harper's Weekly, December 20, 1913.
 
“For years, the majorities have used arcane rules to bully individual legislators, stifle debate, limit the public’s right to know and punish dissent. It’s awful. But when you run a legislature with gulag-style rules, you lose the creative power that dissenting opinion brings to a debate, and you end up with shallow, short-sighted decisions and ultimately, total dysfunction. That’s why we’re in the mess we’re in now.” - Bill Samuels
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The Constitution clearly places transparency and public information as paramount to the legislative process with the inclusion of not only a publishing and open door policy in Section 10 but a three day aging requirement for legislation in Section 14.  Beyond the Constitution and the Legislature public information is governed by the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) which the legislature may change as they see fit such as excluding themselves.or the entity responsible for their ethics.

 

The public has an absolute right to know what their legislators are doing with their money. Every vote, every debate, every single meeting with a special interest lobbyist should be publicly disclosed on a real time basis so that every voter knows what is being done in their name. That means that the voters could see how their legislators vote as the vote is taken, and they would know who is trying to influence their elected officials before the vote is taken.

 

 

With advances in internet technology, there is simply no excuse for every committee meeting and public hearing not to be available for online viewing. Similarly, bill introductions, floor votes and committee votes should be in a free, searchable online database. The legislature already has a system (LRS) that allows them and lobbyists to see what’s happening – the public deserves the same right.
 
We must also force the legislature to abide by the same Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) standards that governs disclosures by other state agencies. The fact that they intentionally exempted themselves from this such is indicative of their disdain for the taxpayers and their lack of ideological commitment to open government.

ARTICLE III

Legislature

§10. Each house of the legislature shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and publish the same ... The doors of each house shall be kept open ... 

§14. No bill shall be passed or become a law unless it shall have been printed and upon the desks of the members ... at least three calendar legislative days prior to its final passage ...

NEWS BEHIND THE CONSTITUTION
YNN
Zack Fink
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
NEW YORK STATE -- In May, the Albany Times Union began looking through documents from Andrew Cuomo's term as state Attorney General. Reporters found a memo revealing interviews that were done by Cuomo's investigators in the Attorney General's...
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New York Times
Danny Hakim
Monday, July 23, 2012
 ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration, already drawing attention for its focus on secrecy, has now begun editing his record as New York attorney general, sending aides to the state archives to remove key documents from...
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Times Union
Jimmy Vielkind
Monday, July 23, 2012
 ALBANY — For those seeking the history of Andrew Cuomo's tenure as attorney general through the State Archives, be advised: Members of the governor's staff may go over the material before you arrive, review it after you leave and...
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The Wall Street Journal
Michael Gormley
Monday, April 2, 2012
 ALBANY, N.Y. — New York's powerful ethics board won't release any record of its secret vote to hire a longtime aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as its $148,000-a-year executive director in a decision that raises wider concerns among good-...
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Times Union
Jimmy Vielkind
Monday, December 12, 2011
 ALBANY — Former prosecutors and businessmen, a retired senator and a district attorney will make up the state's new government ethics watchdog group. 
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SOLUTIONS
Amendments proposed in the New York Legislature either currently or in the past that are worthy of note.

 

 

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