FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Forest, email@example.com
GROUPS FILED OPEN RECORDS REQUESTS ABOUT BQX TWO WEEKS BEFORE LATEST CONTROVERSY: REQUEST FOR FEASIBILITY STUDY DENIED
New York, NY (Apr. 10, 2018) – On March 28, 2018, the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, in collaboration with the news Web site Progress New York, filed a series of open records requests as part of an investigative effort to examine the Brooklyn Queens Connector, or BQX. A total of nine (9) open records requests have been filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).
- FOIL request seeking NYC Department of Buildings construction records submitted by developers along the route of the BQX. The purpose of this FOIL request is to ascertain whether developers positioned to profit from this public works project have been properly reporting rent-regulated apartments.
- FOIA request seeking U.S. Department of Justice records from the ‘pay to play’ Federal corruption probe against the de Blasio administration specifically related to the BQX.
- FOIL request seeking NYC Department of Environmental Protection records, demonstrating the extent to which the City is aware of the relationship between large construction projects and increased lead levels in tap water.
- Financial feasibility studies related to the BQX used as the basis of controversial memo in which the City admitted the BQX was not financially feasible, submitted to the Office of the Mayor.
A full list of the FOIA/FOIL requests filed can be found here: https://progressnewyork.news/research-data/
The open records requests were filed two weeks before Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) was put on the defensive about media reports that again questioned the financial feasibility of the BQX project.
FOIL Request Constructively Denied
After filing one of the FOIL Requests, the one requesting BQX feasibility studies from the Office of the Mayor, we were informed that the Office of the Mayor would require one (1) year before a determination would be made about the release of records. Progress New York obtained guidance from the Committee on Open Government based in Albany, and the guidance provided indicates that if an Agency subject to FOIL refuses to grant access to records beyond 20 business days, that refusal can be treated or interpreted as a denial of records that can be appealed. Progress New York will be appealing this constructive denial.
The deliberate withholding of records by the Office of the Mayor comes as Mayor de Blasio has admitted that the City of New York will be unable to pay for the BQX project using a controversial value capture tax system that will benefit some participants in the real estate industry, who own or plan to develop real property along the proposed route of the BQX project.
Appeal for Legal Assistance
Progress New York seeks pro bono legal assistance in preparation, if necessary, to litigate the denial of records. If any lawyer or legal group can provide pro bono legal support, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org