New York City Freedom Of Information Requests Fail Miserably

from the doesn't-Bloomberg-own-an-information-company dept

Interesting timing on this one. As you may recall, back in May we filed three Freedom of Information requests, two with NYC and one with Homeland Security's ICE division. To date, we've only received one complete response, from NYC telling us that they didn't have the documents in question -- which actually revealed some interesting info about how Homeland Security was posting NBC propaganda as if it were done by itself.

However, we're still waiting on the other two. ICE has said that they're still processing our request (though I believe it's now past the legal limit to do so). Similarly, NYC is way past due in fulfilling our request under NYC's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

It turns out that this is par for the course for New York City. Reader Stephen points us to a report that says that, even though Mayor Bloomberg has promised to be much more transparent, the city government regularly witholds information or ignores requests altogether, according to amNewYork. The NY Times has even sued the city over this. amNewYork ran some tests itself, sending out 38 requests, and detailing the responses. Here are a few of the lowlights from NYC:
  • Eight agencies failed to respond within the five-business-day deadline they are given to make the information available, deny the request with a reason, or provide an approximate date when the documents will be ready.
  • Some agencies expressed disdain for answering queries. Concerning a related question on FOIL requests, a city Housing Preservation and Development staffer wrote in an email to a records officer that “this is the kind of crap I have no patience for.” Incidentally, HPD was the fastest agency to respond to amNY’s initial FOIL request, taking two days.
The report has a lot more information and details, but it sounds like folks working for the NYC government really just don't care and so they don't really follow the law.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 11:05pm

    Freedom of information only when they want it to be free

     

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  2.  
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    athe, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 11:12pm

    Clearly...

    but it sounds like folks working for the NYC government really just don't care and so they don't really follow the law

    So, where are the cries of "But... But... It's the LAW! Even if you don't care or think it is just, you must follow it!"

     

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  3.  
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    Jesse (profile), Jul 18th, 2011 @ 11:17pm

    ...up with I will not put

    “...this is the kind of crap I have no patience for.”

    Maybe she was just saying she doesn't have any patience for ending sentences with prepositions.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Jul 18th, 2011 @ 11:45pm

    NY lottery

    You should also not play the lottery in New York. When Dateline did a story on the lottery in California where retailers were ripping off people: (saying your ticket is a loser when in fact, you won $500 or a jackpot, then they give the ticket to a friend to cash.)

    California Lottery with Dateline cracked down on people. When Dateline tried to do something with New York lottery, NY refused, and they even SENT messages to all retailers to beware of dateline trying to crack down on them.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 12:23am

    Seems like the more transparency we're promised, the less we actually get. *cough*bama...

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 12:46am

    Sanctions

    We all know bureaucrats love secrecy. So, when they decide to just ignore FOI laws, what are the sanctions?

     

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  7.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 1:44am

    Re:

    Obumma

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 2:42am

    “this is the kind of crap I have no patience for.”

    Sounds a bit like the person is overworked. Could it be that politicians are making promises and then expecting others to keep them? No, that could never happen.

    Then again, the law is named "FOIL". Should have been your first clue as what to expect. ;-)

     

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  9.  
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    Blatant Coward (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 3:47am

    Re: Sanctions

    They have to get the no name bags for their bribes.

     

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  10.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 4:14am

    Re: ...up with I will not put

    Normally I'd be riding the grammar-nazi train right there with you but that's an arbitrary and bloody stupid rule. It's not practiced in common speech, literature, the press, most text books, or even by English teachers. TD regulars should be quite familiar with the idea that a rule that nobody obeys should be abolished.

     

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  11.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 4:21am

    Re: Re:

    S'part of why I voted for the guy. Every thirty years or so the nation needs a reminder that the hard left are just as much lying, power-mongering asshats as any other politician. The only real difference is they waste our money quicker than most.

     

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  12.  
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    abc gum, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 4:42am

    Re:

    Yes - I'm sure he is to blame for NYC FOIL non compliance, thx for pointing that out.

     

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  13.  
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    abc gum, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 4:46am

    "a city Housing Preservation and Development staffer wrote in an email to a records officer that “this is the kind of crap I have no patience for.”"

    This person needs to find a different line of work.

     

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  14. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:01am

    I'm sure the New Yorkers that actually live in the city and pay for crucial municipal services are aghast at the fact your freetard foia wasn't handled post-haste.

    You are literally the most ginormous douche hydrant on the internet, Masnick.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:03am

    Anytime a politician (Bloomberg, Obama) promises to be more transparent than his predecessor, you can be sure that he will be LESS transparent.

     

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  16.  
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    Spaceboy (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:42am

    Re:

    So it's okay for the city to ignore the law because Mike is a ginormous douche hydrant? Is that a credible defense?

    If you have no patience for freetards and expect them to follow the law, why not the city of New York?

     

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  17.  
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    Rekrul, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:46am

    Re:

    Anytime a politician (Bloomberg, Obama) promises to be more transparent than his predecessor, you can be sure that he will be LESS transparent.

    No, the transparency refers to how transparent their disdain for actually following the law is.

     

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  18.  
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    icetrout, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:54am

    Re: ...up with I will not put

    Sound's to me like HPD could lay off a few LAZY STAFFERS to save TAXPAYERS MONIES!Hell cut the government work force by 1/2 since only 1/2 of them are really working :)

     

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  19.  
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    Bill W (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 7:16am

    Sounds familiar ...

    "[They] really just don't care and so they don't really follow the law."

    Which, of course, is the same problem the strong IP folks are running up against.

     

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  20.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, they way he made up an excuse to start a massively expesive and unfinanced war in the Middle East.

    Thirty years? Hard left? That's a picture of you smoking a reefer, right? Jeeze, Obama annoys me, too, but find valid criticisms. (like flip-floping on lobbyists, less transparancy, coming down harder on dissenters/whistleblowers, cow-towing to industry and Hollywood, etc.)

     

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  21.  
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    Trails (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hard-left?

    He's an asshat, he lied about transparency and accountability. When people scream "commie", "leftist" etc... at him it drowns out the VALID complaints about his actions and lends credence to the idiotic notion that politics is a uni-dimensional spectrum.

    Disentangle yourself from the 24 hour news narrative, it's wrong.

    People elected him because he promised hope, change (whatever those mean), accountability and transparency (things sorely lacking under Bush), not because of some perceived socialist bent. That he failed to deliver on them are some of the best and most poignant criticisms of his presidency. Screaming "STALIN!!!" every time he tries to spend money simply drives the discussion to shrill emotional knee jerk territory, and away from rational debate (where it should be).

    If you voted for him because you wanted to "teach the country a lesson about lefties", there are so many things wrong with this I'm not sure where to begin. Voting for a guy you think will bugger the country to demonstrate the problems with one end of an artificial spectrum... I dunno. You must have a lot of time on your hands?

     

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  22.  
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    Trails (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 8:13am

    Re:

    So you're saying he gets a lot of action? How kind of you...

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 9:05am

    Re:

    You are literally the most ginormous douche hydrant on the internet, Masnick.

    +1 funny

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 9:10am

    Hey Inspector Clouseau, why don't you pry open your wallet and fund a lawsuit? The sniveling is getting tiresome.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: ...up with I will not put

    Problem is that the 1/2 that aren't working are the ones in charge, so eliminating 1/2 of the government force would result in a non-working government, since there would only be "Managers" and "Directors" left, and with no one left to manage or direct there would be nothing for them to do, so they would just play golf and drink while complaining that nothing ever gets done....

     

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  26.  
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    txpatriot, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 10:17am

    38 FOIL requests for "test" purposes?

    No wonder the overworked gov't staffers are frustrated. Of course they can't tell a legitimate FOIL request from a "test" inquiry, and it's no excuse (all inquiries s/b processed timely in accordance with the law), but how do you think 911 operators would react if TD readers started placing "test" 911 calls to see how quickly they are answered?

    Maybe the FOIL / FOIA s/b re-written to prevent such abuse.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 10:59am

    Re:

    Hey Inspector Clouseau, why don't you pry open your wallet and fund a lawsuit? The sniveling is getting tiresome.


    Hahahahahah. Looks like someone is getting worried that I'm sniffing a little too close to his questionable actions.

    This is going to be fun.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Looks like someone is getting worried that I'm sniffing a little too close to his questionable actions.

    Oops, did I forget to flush the toilet in the executive restroom again?

    This is going to be fun.

    I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself.

    Thanks for the straight line of the month.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Relative to any other President in the past thirty years? Yep, hard left. Then Carter and his epic economic failure and the thirty-ish years going back to FDR? Still hard left relative to the rest. I'm fine with that choice of words.

    The money spent on the "massively expensive" war is chump change compared to how far in debt we've been run in the past four years. Yeah, that includes Bush's last year. Which is why I said most rather than anyone.

    Finally, I'm not criticizing the guy. I'm quite happy with how well he's done in seeing that we won't be electing another like him to the highest office in the land for another thirty years or so.

     

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  30.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    See just above for a response to most of that.

    Voters who've never lived through an epically bad President on fiscal matters are like children who think bees are pretty but've never caught one. They're never going to believe how much suck is involved until they elect one or catch their first bee. And get stung.

    Yeah, I could have voted for who I thought would do a better job for the nation but I'd rather we have 4-8 years of pain and learn a lesson that we hopefully won't have to repeat for a long time.

     

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  31.  
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    Trails (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You believe the US's current economic woes are primarily Obama's fault? Really?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, I know our current debt level is mostly his fault. That's just simple math.

    What I believe is that rather than doing anything that would actually help the economy, or even just leaving things be and trusting the economy to fix itself like politicians usually should, he spent money hand over fist on boondoggles, political pseudo-payoffs, and idealogical money sinks and has actively hurt the economy. Yeah, I know every President wastes money but Obama has taken the gold in it.

    Seriously, check your history books and public records. Every single time we elect a no bones about it, died in the wool liberal they spend like drunken sailors and try to lay the bill at the feet of those who they think have too much money. When that doesn't work, and it almost never does, they give it to our children.

    Yeah, there are a fair number on both sides of the aisle who do the exact same thing but when ever single member of a subset do it, you'd think we'd have sense to stop electing them. But we forget history and we're forced to repeat it every thirty years or so. Them's the breaks.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Trails -> "You believe the US's current economic woes are primarily Obama's fault? "

    The Mighty Buzzard -> "No, I know our current debt level is mostly his fault."


    Remind me again .... which president was in office and signed off on the bailout? Umm, does it really matter?

    "President George W. Bush signed the bill into law within hours of its congressional enactment, creating the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to purchase failing bank assets.[13]"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Economic_Stabilization_Act_of_2008


    Also, how many times was the debt ceiling raised under the Bush43 presidency? Well, lets just look then.

    With no complaints or games, and with little notice, the national debt grew more than $4 trillion during George W. Bush’s Presidency.
    http://fredericacade.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/george-bush-raised-the-debt-ceiling-nine-times-that- included-an-entitlement-and-bailout-during-his-presidency-with-republican-support/


    Wow - is that correct?

    "With no fanfare and little notice, the national debt has grown by more than $4 trillion during George W. Bush's presidency. It's the biggest increase under any president in U.S history."
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500803_162-4486228-500803.html


    Hmmmm, that's interesting.


    "Every single time we elect a no bones about it, died in the wool liberal they spend like drunken sailors"

    Libreral - Really?

    "Obama as a Centrist. Really"
    http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/washington/archives/obama-as-a-centrist-really.html


    I was hoping you post was sarcasm, if it was I missed it.

     

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  34.  
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    abc gum, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:51pm

    Re:

    It is refreshing to see such mature civility in the comments here, because sometimes people just act like children.

     

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  35.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 6:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Remind me again .... which president was in office and signed off on the bailout? Umm, does it really matter?

    Bush signed off on the first bailout, all the rest hold Obama's signature. None of which am I happy about. There, you're reminded.

    That aside, nice strawman tactics there. I am not a Bush fanboi. Going back to post FDR days, I'd have to go with Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton as my personal favorites. Carter and Obama as my least favorites. Yeah, that means I even like Nixon over either of them. If you want to argue Bush vs Obama, do it with someone who likes one of them.

    A Centrist? Obama? Clinton and Kennedy were Centrists. Even Bush went left of them in several instances and lefties all but want him publicly tortured. Medicare Prescription Drugs, Bank bailouts, a huge whopping lump of money to combat HIV in Africa, the largest public funding of alternative fuel research ever, and several others. Obama, without finishing a term yet, has Green Jobs (wtf?), Yet Another Tedious Bailout, the healthcare bill that was far enough left it couldn't get through a Democrat controlled House and Senate until they watered it down significantly, ad nauseum attempts to raise taxes, and enough more that this could easily turn into a page rather than an overlong paragraph.

    I'll grant you he's not George Soros or Huffington Post reader left but for a President he might as well be sitting in FDR's lap.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 8:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    After a pummeling like that, it's amazing to see the Mighty Buzzard answer the bell and come staggering out of his corner for more. Well played ABC.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 5:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I blame both parties and the business community.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 7:24am

    We need a more open government

    This would diminish the need for FOI requests.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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