Freedom of Information chief coming to Greenport Thursday


Anyone looking for access to local government records for the first time might have a number of questions about the process.

How long is a reasonable time to wait for the information requested?

What kind of information is and isn’t readily accessible?

How specific does must a request be?

Attorney Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, has been answering such questions for reporters and the general public from his office in Albany for more than 35 years. This week he’ll be doing that in person in Greenport.

On Thursday, Oct. 18, Mr. Freeman will be on hand for a special joint village/town meeting at Greenport’s Third Street firehouse from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

He’ll cover both the Freedom of Information Law, which dictates how government must provide public access to official documents, and the Open Meetings Law, the authority on the correct methods for announcing and conducting public meetings.

Greenport Village decided to call in Mr. Freeman after years of complaints from some residents about the manner in which the village provides access to public records.

“Certainly, an educational presentation is a benefit for everybody,” Mr. Freeman told The Suffolk Times earlier this year. “When issues come up, the clerk [Sylvia Pirillo] has contacted me. She strenuously attempts to comply with the law.”

Former village utilities director and trustee William Swiskey, who frequently complains about the village’s response to requests for public records, was skeptical when asked last month about the meeting.

“In my opinion, [the Village Board] is going to get a lesson, if anything comes of it,” he told The Suffolk Times in September.

Click here for more information on the Committee on Open Government

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