Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 11, 2013

Court takes up teacher pension privacy issue

Niagara Gazette — ALBANY — New York's highest court will soon decide whether the names and benefits of retired teachers in public pension plans should be made public.

The Empire Center, a project of the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute think tank, was denied the names by the state and city teachers' retirement systems under the state Freedom of Information Law.

In refusing to release the information, the teacher pension systems cited a recent court decision that protects police retiree names. Lower courts agreed with that privacy argument, and the Empire Center appealed to the Court of Appeals, which accepted the case last week.

The Empire Center collects such data for its own research, for news media and for private individuals to track how public money is spent and to help identify any abuses. The center doesn't seek addresses or other data from the records, which were once provided by the retirement systems as public documents.

As a matter of policy, John Cardillo, a spokesman for the State Teachers Retirement System, declined to comment on the appeal. A spokesman for the city teachers' retirement systems didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Arguments are expected within weeks; a decision could come weeks later.

Empire Center Director Timothy Hoefer said the Court of Appeals decision to take the case is seen as a "ray of hope for public transparency."

"We remain confident that the court will validate the public's right to know how public pension funds are spent," he said.

Empire Center's website, SeeThroughNY.net, publicizes many areas of public spending, including government salaries.

The Empire Center's appeal includes numerous supportive statements in court briefs from the Albany Times Union, Auburn Citizen, Buffalo News, Gannett Co. Inc., Hearst Corp., New York Daily News, New York News Publishers Association, New York Post, the New York Press Association, The New York Times, Newsday and the Observer-Dispatch of Utica.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
House Ads
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page
Poll

Do you think cigarette sales to non-Native American customers should be taxed on reservations?

Yes. Items should be taxed like they are everywhere else.
No, the indian reservations are sovereign land and they are selling them on their land.
Not up to me. Native Americans decide the rules on their land.
Don't care. Smoking isn't good for you.
     View Results