Sunshine Series explains “Your Right to Know”

As an advocate of the First Amendment, we feel it’s the duty of the Lake Placid News to inform our readers of their rights as citizens of New York and the United States. When it comes to freedom of information — public information — you have more rights than you may realize.

That’s why we’ve dug into the archives of our newspaper and our sister newspaper, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, to revive a series called the “Sunshine Series: Your Right to Know.”

“Your Right to Know” is a publication of New York state’s Committee on Open Government that provides an overview of the Freedom of Information Law, Open Meetings Law and Personal Privacy Protection Law. In the old days, it was a pamphlet. Today it can be found online as a PDF download.

In the media, we keep this information handy, in part, so we can keep public officials accountable for their actions. But these rights pertain to all New York state residents, not just journalists.

As we bring you this information, we hope you learn from it. We hope you download the PDF from the Department of State website — https://dos.ny.gov/open-meeting-law — and use it as a reference.

DOWNLOAD the “Your Right to Know” PDF about New York’s open government laws:


Committee on Open Government

The Committee on Open Government is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Freedom of Information Law, Open Meetings Law and Personal Privacy Protection Law.

The Freedom of Information Law governs rights of access to government records, while the Open Meetings Law concerns the conduct of meetings of public bodies and the right to attend those meetings.

The Committee is composed of 11 members, 5 from government and 6 from the public. The five government members are the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, whose office acts as secretariat for the Committee, the commissioner of general services, the director of the budget, and one elected local government official appointed by the governor. Of the six public members, at least two must be or have been representatives of the news media.

The Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) directs the Committee to furnish advice to agencies, the public and the news media, issue regulations and report its observations and recommendations to the governor and the Legislature annually. Similarly, under the Open Meetings Law, the Committee issues advisory opinions, reviews the operation of the law and reports its findings and recommendations annually to the Legislature.

When questions arise under either the Freedom of Information or the Open Meetings Law, the Committee staff can provide written or oral advice and attempt to resolve controversies in which rights may be unclear. Since its creation in 1974, more than 24,000 written advisory opinions have been prepared by the Committee at the request of government, the public and the news media. In addition, hundreds of thousands of verbal opinions have been provided by telephone. Staff also provides training and educational programs for government, public interest and news media organizations, as well as students on campus.

Opinions prepared since early 1993 that have educational or precedential value are maintained online, identified by means of a series of key phrases in separate indices created in relation to the Freedom of Information Law and the Open Meetings Law.

If you are unable to locate information on the website and need advice regarding either the Freedom of Information Law or the Open Meetings Law, feel free to contact: Committee on Open Government, NYS Department of State, 99 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12231, 518-474-2518, coog@dos.ny.gov

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