ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — NEWS10’s attempts to get access to information about Governor Cuomo’s completion of sexual harassment training have been met with delay, delay, and another delay.
According to Heather Murray, a managing attorney with the Local Journalism Project at Cornell Law School’s First Amendment Clinic, our request is reasonable.
“Records demonstrating that the required sexual harassment training has been completed must be disclosed in order for the public to ascertain whether the law has been complied with,” Murray explained.
While the first two letters from the records access officer extending our request included a paragraph pointing to COVID-19 as a cause for delay, the most recent correspondence, dated June 1, only says additional time is required to complete the response.
Governor Cuomo has already said publicly that he completed the required sexual harassment training.
“These records should be readily available, and they’re clearly public,” said Murray, “so there’s, in my view, no reason for extended delays.”
The most recent kickback of our March 1 request for information states we can expect another status update on or before June 29.
“Access to information is vital to democracy, and certainly vital in this time, with COVID and other issues that you all have been investigating lately,” said Murray.
NEWS10 reached out to the Executive Chamber to inquire about how many FOIL requests they are processing and to find out whether or not employees of the records access office are back to working in-person. The latter question did not get a response. This was the statement we received back from the Chamber:
“New York’s FOIL teams receive tens of thousands of FOIL requests each year and work diligently to provide timely responses to all requesters. In addition to delays stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, many requests often require a detailed review of hundreds, if not thousands, of pages of records.
Please see below for the current approximate totals of FOIL requests for both the Executive Chamber, as well as the rest of New York State agencies. As you’ll see below that to date (as of 6/11/21) the Executive Chamber has received 393 foils in 2021. Last year (2020), Chamber received 440 total. The number of Chamber foils received to date far outpaces what would have been received at this same time a year ago.Colin Brennan, Senior Deputy Communications Director
Senior Deputy Communications Director Colin Brennan also provided these numbers pertaining to FOIL requests in the Chamber and statewide:
Statewide Totals – State agencies:
2021 (through 6/11/21):
Received: approximately 33,625
Closed: approx.. 26,725
2021 (through 6/11/21):