After five years of lawsuits and appeals, a Brooklyn judge has definitively upheld the right to know who’s drawing public pensions and how much they’re being paid.
Acting Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Peter Sweeney made laudably quick work of an effort by the fire unions and the city to conceal the identities of FDNY pensioners and their retirement benefits.
Although the law has long been clear that publicly funded pension payments are public record, some union-dominated pension boards balked at providing information to the Empire Center for Public Policy, a taxpayer watchdog that sought to post it on an online database called SeeThroughNY.net.
A discouragingly high number of judges then misread the statutes in ruling pension payments fell outside the Freedom of Information Law.
Finally, last May, the state’s highest court ruled unanimously for disclosure in a seven-page decision that left no doubt about the law. Regardless, the fire unions marched back to court and wound up in front of Sweeney.
Such was their misfortune and the public’s good luck. Sweeney swatted away the nonsense. The unions, pension boards and city should comply forthwith.