Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Katz brushes off FOIL request

July 11, 2014

Elisa Velazquez, Esq.
Counsel to the Borough President
Office of the Queens Borough President
120-55 Queens Boulevard
Kew Gardens, New York 11424-1015

Re: Pending Records Access Request dated May 23, 2014

Dear Ms. Velazquez:

On May 23, 2014, I submitted a records access request (“Request”), made pursuant to the New York State Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”), which seeks, in rough summary, minutes of Queens Borough Board meetings held between December, 2013, inclusive, and April, 2014, inclusive. Pursuant to the New York State Open Meetings Law, those are public records, subject to public access. (See POL § 106(3).) On May 27, 2014, the Request was delivered.

On June 3, 2014, you replied via letter (duplicate attached) which states in relevant part: “… we are in the process of locating and reviewing the documents responsive to your request and will forward same to you within the next two (2) weeks.”

Contrary to that assurance, no records were produced to me within two weeks, or at any other time thereafter. Indeed, I have received no further communication from you or from anyone else at the Office of the Queens Borough President concerning the FOIL Request.

On June 23, 2014, I wrote to you (duplicate letter attached) in an attempt to ascertain the status of the pending Request. I noted that “more than two weeks have passed, and I [have] not received any records or further correspondence,” and I requested that you “please send the responsive records or at least notify me of your intention regarding the Request.” On June 24, 2014, said letter was delivered.

As of this writing, I have not received any response from you to my letter dated June 23, 2014; and I still have not received any records or further communication in response to my FOIL Request – constituting failure by the Office of the Queens Borough President to comply with FOIL.

The Freedom of Information Law exists because “[t]he people's right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society” and because “a free society is maintained when government is responsive and responsible to the public.” (See POL § 84.) It is not acceptable and very disappointing, that the Office of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz thwarts the intent of FOIL, by not producing records or even communicating as required to resolve a records access request; and moreover, by not responding to a requestor’s written attempt to follow up.

I kindly request – again – that the Office of the Queens Borough President please immediately produce to me the records that are responsive to my Request.


Robert LoScalzo

2 enclosures

cc: Robert Freeman, Esq.
Executive Director
New York State Committee on Open Government

Camille Jobin-Davis, Esq.
Assistant Director
New York State Committee on Open Government




Anonymous said...

Bring in the FEDS!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and telling.

Back in black said...

Another queens democrat mafioso ...bring them all down

Anonymous said...

Obviously nobody bothered to take minutes at those meetings and now they have to cobble them together from memory. That will take a bit of time. Awesome staff you've got there Ms Katz.

Anonymous said...

I honestly do not think they take minutes at the Borough Board meetings. I have never seen anyone there who was charged with doing so. The meetings themselves are really not very productive and things just seem to get rammed through

Alan said...

Keep fighting the good fight, Bob! You're one of a kind. Thanks for your diligence.

Anonymous said...

Probably the best Borough President that this great borough of Queens has ever had!

Anonymous said...

The best Borough President?

That sure is not saying much. Why do I feel the posting came right out of Borough Hall?

Now we are paying for photographer and PR person?

Anonymous said...

I suspect Anonymous #5 was being sarcastic ...

Anonymous said...

Who even knows there is a "Queens Borough Board"?

Jon Torodash said...

NYC Charter § 85. Borough board (b) Each borough board shall:
(10) Give notice of all its public meetings and hearings, and make such meetings and hearings available for broadcasting and cablecasting;
(11) Keep a public record of its activities and transactions, including minutes of meetings, majority and minority reports, by-laws, and all documents which the board is required by law to review; such documents shall, in accordance with law, be made available to elected officials upon request and for reasonable public inspection;

See page 42

LoScalzo appears on firm ground to demand these documents. The BP's office would be foolish to fight this.