March 22, 2013

Let the sunshine in with ‘Buchwald’ bill


Sunshine Week was about the only thing with sun in it in recent months. The annual week, this year held from March 10-16, celebrates “our right to know” with the motto “open government is good government.”

As members of the press and the community, we couldn’t agree more. The workings of our government agencies and administrations are only functional in the light of day. Sunshine Week is a national, bipartisan effort to promote open government and freedom of information.

In the spirit of Sunshine Week, we applaud our state assemblyman, David Buchwald, for his efforts to enhance access to public records and promote open meetings. Mr. Buchwald, who was sworn in on Jan. 1, begins his career in Albany on a high note with his sponsorship of Assembly Bill 5306.

This bill requires an appeal to be filed within 30 days of a court judgment on a Freedom of Information lawsuit and abandons the request for appeal when an agency fails to serve and file a brief within two months after the date of the notice of appeal.

This bill will limit the time in which state agencies can appeal court decisions mandating documents be released under the Freedom of Information Law. Anyone who has used this vital tool of government knows how delays can lead to further delays. Those seeking information may give up their quest, and a case can get forgotten or lost in the shuffle. It takes a dedicated journalist or member of the public to pry public data or information from a recalcitrant agency.

“The bill resonates with the assemblyman in that while the Freedom of Information Law contains exacting demands on responding to initial requests, it lacks specificity with responding in a timely manner when it comes to appeals,” said Danny Weisfeld, a spokesman for Mr. Buchwald, on Monday.

The law can “put muscle into a decision by a judge once those documents have been declared FOILable,” according to Mr. Weisfeld.

The bill passed unanimously, 145-0. Mr. Buchwald was one of three members to have bills passed on Sunshine Week and said in a statement that his work on the Governmental Operations Committee was particularly relevant to getting it passed.

The bill was part of a legislative package that focuses on increasing openness, accountability and transparency in state government. The Assembly also approved a measure that would require the state to provide greater disclosure of information relating to the sale of property. Under the bill, an auditing system would be established to track the inventory of real property. Other bills strengthen our right to know, including a bill that bars government agencies from inappropriately using the copyright law to deny access to a public record, and makes judicial proceedings available to the public if the presiding judge deems there is no risk that the disclosure would disrupt the investigation or the proceedings.

Mr. Buchwald is starting his office-holding on a positive note by showing support for good government and transparency. He recently opened an office in Mount Kisco at 125-131 E. Main St., Suite 204. He represents the 93rd State Assembly District, which includes Bedford and Pound Ridge along with North Salem, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, New Castle, North Castle, Harrison and parts of White Plains.

His website and contact information is at www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem/David-Buchwald. Share your thoughts with him, as he represents our district in Albany.


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

Editorial

NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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