Private agency, public dollars-New York
|Common Definition Themes|
|These 5 characteristics tend to recur in most state definitions for private agencies which are subject to FOIA laws.|
|1.) Receive or dispense public funds:|
|2.) Created by a public agency:|
|3.) Present themselves as a public entity:|
|4.) Perform a public function:|
|5.) Controlled or managed by a public entity:|
=The legal history does not mention this characteristic or it has rejected this characteristic as a potential defining aspect.
=This characteristic alone is sufficient to bring an organization under the FOIA.
=This is a part of a compound definition requiring multiple characteristics. The numbers after the symbol indicate the additional requirements.
=This is a characteristic that has been mentioned within the legal history and may aid in deciding whether or not the FOIA law applies to an organization but is not a part of a specific definition.
In Onondaga County, New York, the Onondaga County Convention Center/War Memorial Complex Management Corp. oversees the Onondaga Convention Center (Oncenter), is paid millions of dollars a year, was created at the instigation of local government, and refuses to provide documents in response to New York Freedom of Information Law requests because it says it is a private organization.
In November 2008, a local newspaper asked for payroll records, board meeting minutes and some contracts from the management group. Eric Schuster, its vice president of operations, denied the request, saying, "It is our position that the Oncenter is not an agency subject to FOIL and therefore your request is denied."
Robert Freeman, who works for the New York government in public information compliance, told the newspaper it is clear that the Oncenter's records and meetings should be open because all of its board members are appointed by government. Freeman commented, "When the government has the authority to designate the entirety of the membership of the board of directors of this entity, how can we say that it's not government?"
The New York Freedom of Information Law includes in its definition of public agency any "public corporation" and "other governmental entity performing a governmental or proprietary function for the state or any one or more municipalities thereof."
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