The Empire Center for Public Policy is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit initiated by New York City firefighter unions in an attempt to block the release of pension recipients’ names alongside individual pension benefit amounts.
The case arose just a few months after the state Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in favor of the Empire Center in a landmark Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) case revolving around the same issue. In that case, the Empire Center was seeking the names of pension recipients from New York’s two teacher retirement systems. Based on the court ruling, both systems subsequently released their information to the Center, which posts pension data at its transparency website, SeeThroughNY.net.
The other New York City pension funds were withholding similar information pending the resolution of the case before the Court of Appeals. Once that decision was handed down, the Empire Center renewed its FOIL request for the names and pension benefits of retirees from all the city systems.
The Uniformed Firefighters Association, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and several individual union members filed a lawsuit in August seeking to prevent the city Fire Department Pension Fund from complying with the Empire Center’s FOIL request.
Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center, said the firefighter unions have raised arguments similar to those rejected by the Court of Appeals in the teachers’ pension fund cases.
“We look forward to arguing this case on the merits and settling the issue of public pension disclosures once and for all,” Hoefer said.
The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan think tank based in Albany. The Empire Center’s brief in the case can be downloaded here.