Statement Concerning Executive Order #183

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Statement by Tim Hoefer
Executive Director, Empire Center for Public Policy
Concerning Executive Order #183

Governor Cuomo today issued an executive order that boils down to a redundant reaffirmation of existing Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) exemptions preventing the release of personal contact information for public employees.

It’s tempting to dismiss this as political posturing. Unfortunately, the governor’s rhetoric hints that his assault on the public’s right to know might not end there.

The names, job titles and salaries of state and local government employees in New York, unionized or not, have always been available to the people who pay their salaries, thanks to FOIL. At the same time, personal details including the addresses and phone numbers of public employees have been, quite appropriately, excluded from FOIL disclosure.   

As declared in the preamble to New York’s FOIL statute, “government is the public’s business and … the public, individually and collectively and represented by a free press, should have access to the records of government.”

At SeeThroughNY.net, the Empire Center proudly maintains the largest online database of public payrolls in New York State, consisting of millions of records dating back to 2008. We will continue to assert our rights under FOIL to keep this information accurate and up-to-date for the benefit of the taxpaying public.