With public corruption filling the headlines, Reclaim New York has launched an effort to demand that every government expenditure is made public using the state’s Freedom of Information Laws, the organization already has requested the checkbooks of hundreds of towns, school districts, public authorities, counties and other taxpayer-funded entities.
The New York Transparency Project will target more than 3,400 government entities statewide. The effort will engage residents with FOIL process training sessions, establish an online platform for volunteers and convert spending information into a searchable online database.
“Overspending and public corruption happen when politicians don’t think anyone is paying attention,” said Brandon Muir, Reclaim New York’s executive director. “We aim to change that by ushering in a new era of engagement on the part of the public, and transparency from our government. It’s time people saw how their money is really being spent.”
Reclaim New York, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing a statewide conversation about the future of New York, its economy and its people, has already sent FOIL requests to 253 entities on Long Island and another 245 in the lower Hudson Valley.
In Nassau and Suffolk counties 57 municipalities and school districts either ignored, denied or otherwise failed to complete requests for their checkbook and spending information.
While the Suffolk County government complied, Nassau County failed to respond to Reclaim New York’s requests for spending data, even after appeal.
Responses from Hudson Valley governments still are being analyzed and will be announced in the coming weeks.
“This is just the beginning of an effort that will engage thousands of New Yorkers, training them to get involved in making sure the books are opened to more scrutiny than ever before,” Muir said. “That’s when we will see more conflicts of interest, more political favors, more waste, more fraud and more abuse exposed.”
Reclaim New York is having training for citizens on Long Island and the Hudson Valley to engage them in the FOIL process directly. Residents can request training at ReclaimNewYork.org/transparency .