The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


An interesting, below the radar, issue arose at the Law Committee meeting the other night.

A citizen has Foiled records, including time sheets, of Council employees and employees of the Clerk's Office.

The Foil request was the Administration. According to sources, the denial was based upon time sheets being sacred, municipal writings, only available to the high priests of bureaucracy.

The Law Committee, controlled by Democrats, approved an appeal of the denial. In short, they have no problem turning over the documents.

This is of interest for two reasons:

1) The legislation creating Council oversight of FOIL request was vetoed. That veto was overridden. However, this may be legislation that does limit the Mayor's power and thus, not valid absent a referendum.

2) Time sheets can be FOILED. Despite the Administration's legal analysis, time sheets have to be turned over upon request. Not necessarily every piece of information on a time sheet, but in general, they can be FOILED.

Payroll records of municipal housing authority were not exempted from disclosure under Freedom of Information Law by CLS Pub O § 87(2)(b)since (1) records regarding days worked, leave taken with or without pay and leave accrued were relevant to day-to-day operations of authority, and (2) authority failed to show how release of records would result in economic or personal hardship, as possibility that records could be used to discover other financial information was insufficient and claim that newspaper might use information to create embarrassing article was also insufficient. Buffalo News v Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (1990, 4th Dept) 163 App Div 2d 830, 558 NYS2d 364.

Records identifying public employees who work during given period, rates of pay and number of hours worked are available because those records are "relevant" to performance of duties; Freedom of Information Law deals specifically with payroll information. Comm on Open Gov't FOIL-AO-4657.

So keep on Foiling and don't take no for an answer. Remember, the government has to articulate a reason for the denial. They cannot issue blanket denials.


Rensselaer County Court Judge Patrick McGarth has tossed his hat into the ring for a Supreme Court seat. If nominated, McGrath will face Judge Anthony Carpinello, an East Greenbush native and Appellate Division judge.

Looks like Tonko's in for the 21st Congressional District race and he received a warm welcome from fellow candidate Darius Shahinfar:

"I welcome Commissioner Tonko into the Congressional race. As Upstate New Yorkers deal with gasoline prices nearing $4 a gallon and rising energy costs, his experience on energy issues will be sorely missed at this crucial time for NYSERDA.

“However, I welcome his long experience in the New York State Assembly into a race which is very much focused on new ideas for the future of Upstate New York and our great Country."

And candidates Tracey Brooks also welcomes Tonko:

"I welcome Mr. Tonko to this race and I look forward to engaging voters as a leader with a different kind of experience, a clear vision for our future, and a focus on the right priorities to make real change happen."

If we didn't know better we might think someone is implying that Tonko is the past, not the future.


A much-anticipated independent documentary about Mame Faye, Troy's most famous madam, will premiere on June 14, 2008, at the Sanctuary for Independent Media (3361 6th Avenue). Two consecutive screenings (at 7:00pm and at 8:45pm) will be held to accommodate expected demand. The Georgie Wonders Orchestra will perform Big Band music from Mame's era at receptions following each screening. Admission to this event is by donation ($10 suggested, $5 student/low income/senior citizen). Sittin' on a Million (length: 26 minutes) was produced and directed by local filmmakers Penny Lane and Annmarie Lanesey. The film is the result of nearly two years' labor, during which time Lane and Lanesey interviewed over 100 people, orchestrated street performances, found local actors to portray several "versions" of Mame in reenactment scenes, and dug into primary sources to piece together this almost-forgotten story. Last summer, a "sneak preview" of clips from the film, held on Mame's birthday (August 15) drew a diverse crowd of over 200 people.

Sittin' on a Million has stirred up some controversy locally. During a call-in show on WGY last fall, an anonymous caller said that the film was "disgusting," asking why the filmmakers believe that someone as "nefarious" as a prostitute should be treated as a "hero." Troy resident Geri de Seve, who performs in the film as one of several "versions" of Mame Faye, counters that whether one likes it or not, "[Mame] was a very important part of Troy's history, a very strong woman, and very much of an entrepreneur. There are a lot of ways that prostitution happens, and it's not always women lying on their backs. There are a lot of other ways that people sell their souls and bodies, and her profession just happens to be the one way we call sinful."

Tomorrow, Rensselaer's water woes continue. Or maybe next week. We may start our long weekend early. If so, have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.

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