Council Passes Bill Requiring More Transparency in City Government

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, center, before Tuesday's council meeting (Richard Yeh/WNYC)

The public will soon be able to learn more about decisions made by city government under legislation passed by the City Council Tuesday.

The bill, which has Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s support, will require the Mayor’s Office to post on the city's website all executive orders and, with some exceptions, most memoranda of understanding (MOU).

It aims to provide clarity to an aspect of the political process that is common but little understood by the general public, said Councilmember Gale Brewer, who sponsored the bill.

"Transparency and openness are integral to an informed populace and an effective government," said Brewer. "We are opening up these documents to the general public and shedding light on agreements amongst government agencies."

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said recent executive orders are only accessible either through a FOIL request or through a third-party website, and MOUs are occasionally available on agency websites but there is no uniform process or official place where the documents can be found.

The bill requires timely online postings of all executive orders issued starting 1974, as well as MOUs entered into starting July 2010, unless their disclosures would hurt the city's ability in dealing with other jurisdictions or law enforcement/emergency response operations.

Good government groups are applauding the legislation as one that will make government more accountable and transparent.


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Comments [1]

Dear WNYC Blog.

I applaud the the Honorable Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's and Council Speaker Christine Quin's promise of more "transparency and openness" in government by posting the decisions of the City Council on the Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg's website. "The bill, which has Mayor Michael (R.)Bloomberg’s support, will require the Mayor’s Office to post on the city's website all executive orders and, with some exceptions, most memoranda of understanding (MOU)."

I was taught that in our democracy, we, (all of the Citizens), have the right to access "executive orders" made by our elected officials. I didn't realize that this is a privilege, and that it requires a bill to enforce it.
I was taught that:

A democracy upholds transparency in government as a right for all its Citizens, not a privilege for some; also that:
A democracy necessitates the recording of all the sessions of the City Council by cameras and/or microphones, or, at the very least, by minutes and/or transcripts; also that:
A democracy encourages all of its Citizens to not only understand these executive orders, but also to understand how they are made. Anything less falls short of a democracy.

Mark H Goldstein

cc: The New York Times
The Honorable Mayor Michael R Bloomberg
Council Speaker Christine Quinn

Jun. 19 2011 04:34 PM

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