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Group: Cuomo falls short on freedom of information measures

Watchdog group Reinvent Albany says Gov. Andrew M.

Watchdog group Reinvent Albany says Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's actions fall short when it comes to speeding up government's response to the public's information requests. Credit: Charles Eckert

A watchdog group said Tuesday Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s action falls short when it comes to speeding up government’s response to the public’s information requests.

Cuomo vetoed two bills Friday. One would have forced state agencies to respond more quickly to judges’ orders to provide material requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Law. The other would have mandated courts to award attorneys’ fees when the state denies access to information “in material violation of the law and with no reasonable basis.”

Cuomo said the bills were flawed, noting they didn’t apply to the state legislature. (FOIL never has applied to the legislature.) Instead, the Democrat approved an “executive order” that effectively fast tracks a FOIL appeal when the initial information request is denied.

Reinvent Albany criticized Cuomo’s executive order, saying it “covers a fraction” of what the vetoed bills would have accomplished.

Among other issues, it noted that the bill ordered a faster appeals process that would have applied to state authorities and local governments, the state comptroller and the state attorney general.

The group also noted the two bills were backed by the New York State Committee on Open Government.

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