County legislators to continue drafting FOIL policy

by Carol Thompson

When the Oswego County Legislature’s Strategic Planning and Government Committee meets today, an update will be given on a draft policy regarding how the county deals with requests made under the Freedom of Information Law.

The committee has been seeking to get a clearer picture as to how requests from legislators are handled.

Currently, legislators must make a FOIL request just as the public must. The legislators are not charged for records, but have said that sometimes they have to wait to receive information that they may need to perform their job duties.

The matter of a new policy was tabled during last month’s meeting so that Robert Freeman, who serves as the executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, could review the proposal.

A majority of the records held by Oswego County are public, but the wait for those records can be lengthy. That’s another issue the committee has addressed in the past and is expected to address once again.

The primary issue is whether legislators should be required to file a written request for records that are a part of their duties in serving the public.

Many of the committee members said they do not have a problem paying for copies of records they need to perform their jobs and those that may be needed for other reasons, however, they questioned the necessity of the written request and the waiting period.

At the last meeting, Legislator Shawn Doyle noted that he had to make a written request for a contract that the legislature was expected to vote on and not only had he not seen the contract prior to his request, but that he had to wait to receive it.

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