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NY Bill Would Require Online State Records

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the fresh-air-and-sunlight dept.

Government 76

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Micah Kellner, the New York State assemblyman who last year submitted a bill to provide a tax credit to open source developers, has now proposed the 'Open New York Act,' a law that would make it mandatory for state agencies to put almost all of their public records on the Internet. According to Kellner's office, the law would 'revolutionize the relationship between New Yorkers and their state government, requiring all state agencies to make their records available through a central website — where the data can be used by activists, entrepreneurs, and others to create a host of applications useful in everyday life.' The Open Government Foundation, Citizens Union, and New York Public Interest Research Group all support the bill."

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First (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31884364)

I have a huge p3n1s.

Whoa. (0, Flamebait)

Akira Kogami (1566305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884396)

Sweet. This is the only positive YRO story I've ever seen in my life.

Re:Whoa. (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884414)

Of course, all the information will be tiff images, embedded in pdf files, with document protection preventing alteration and/or adding notes.

Re:Whoa. (1)

Rehnberg (1618505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884594)

You mean you didn't like all the ACTA stories?

Re:Whoa. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31884596)

Wont somebody think of the for profit indexing firms.
They have decades of experience in taking public data and monetizing the resulting product.
Corporate interests have been able to access this data long term but it has been out of reach of the average citizen.
If anybody off the street can just get the data in bulk, process it with free software and donated hardware it could result in real grass roots democracy.
Think of local citizens turning up to local government meetings with real world data about the services provided.
Not the top down tea baggers, or union backed bussed in rent a mobs, just average local Americans demanding to know why they pay as much as the next suburb and get 3/4 the service.
Follow the money :) From citizen to citizen journalist to citizen comptroller.
Start with your local area, then cities, states and finally the Fed.
Copyright challenges to "data" in courts for the next few decades in 3, 2, 1 ..

Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (2, Insightful)

phrackwulf (589741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884402)

Boggle the mind. I guess it didn't occur to the people involved that just as many bad things can be done with this data as good things? I can see the headlines now. Don't like African Americans? I'll load up the "Negro avoider" app on my computer. And never have my commute disrupted again by the sight of people I don't like. Or what about the "victim finder" app for child molesters? Just take the data on family occupancies and compare to local crime statistics and police coverage and voila! Thanks Victim Finder! I hope I'm just crazy but this seems like a triumph of enthusiasm over common sense at first glance.

No kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31884440)

What about the issue of privacy and the problem of identity theft?? If I were a stalker, an identity thieve, a rapist or even a vindictive ex , I would be salivating right now.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884476)

You can already get much of that data pretty easily from the federal government [census.gov] , e.g. your hypothetical racial map for Chicago [wikimedia.org] .

I do think there are probably bad things one can do with demographic data as opposed to good ones, but I'm not sure you can do much by simply hiding the data. De-facto racial segregation in housing exists long after the eradication of de-jure segregation, and even if you hid the data, people who live in a city are going to notice that neighborhoods have different demographics, and if they were going to avoid neighborhoods with races they don't like, they can (and do) already do it without the app.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884510)

All of that data had been available to large corporations [lexisnexis.com] who track that sort of thing.

All of that data is already publicly available - you just have to drive down to the individual offices.

Will it cause problems? I don't know.

Will it make government more transparent? I think so.

There could also be applications that track less spending on certain neighborhoods. Maybe track gross injustices. Maybe even corruption. "Hey look, why is all that state money going in to that neighborhood way above and beyond that state average? It's the Governor's sister's neighborhood? Well, let's have a closer look, shall we."

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (3, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884586)

All of that data is already publicly available - you just have to drive down to the individual offices.

Which is a fine situation to be in. The vast majority of people won't have any use for this data being online. So why spend millions of dollars to benefit a very small percentage of the population. I would hope that they could find something better to do with the tax dollars they collect. Hell, if they've got extra cash burning a hole in their pocket, perhaps they could just take less from us next year?

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (4, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884608)

The vast majority of people won't have any use for this data being online.

Not so. Just because most people don't have a direct need for the material, and wouldn't know what to do with it if they had it, doesn't mean that society doesn't need it. Society does need it. It's just like securities prospectuses; most small investors don't read them, but the fact that the prospectuses are out there and publicly accessible is extremely important to every investor: (1) it helps to keep people honest, and (2) the pros who can read and understand them spread the information to the rest of us.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884652)

Not so. ... Society does need it.

Who said we don't need the information? My point is that we don't need to spend the money to put it online.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31884710)

By that reasoning, as long as the information is *somewhere*, it's fulfilling that seem need... no matter how buried, how sequestered, how encrypted, how 'lost', right? Why spend money to make it available through a clerk, when you can just put it in a filing cabinet in an unstaffed warehouse without any sort of maintained index of records? It's cheaper!

Wrong. Information that isn't accessible isn't useful. It's just secrets at best, and more likely 'garbage data'.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31887500)

Hyperbole much? Again, who said encrypt it? Sequester it? Lose it? Oh, that was you, not me. Who the hell are you arguing with?

By your logic the only possible "solution" is to hire a bunch of "librarians" who each take a printed copy, go to the each resident's home, put a gun to their heads and force them to read it page by page... Whee, what a fun game strawmen can be!

Maybe, if we can get back to my original point: don't waste tax dollars. We worked hard for our money, it's contingent on the people we employ to handle the day to day business of our states to act judiciously and not just indulge themselves in compulsive spending.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (4, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884830)

Indeed. For instance, the plans for the bypass scheduled to go through your property (for which, demolition begins tomorrow) are stored in a disused lavatory in the basement of the library, behind a sign with the text, "beware of the leopard." If that's not public enough for anybody, I don't know what is.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884636)

So why spend millions of dollars to benefit a very small percentage of the population.

Almost everything the government does benefits a very small percentage of the population, at any one time. But you add all those small percentages up, and you get nearly everybody.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884724)

Or you get a few who are very highly benefited. I jest, but only slightly.

Meet you part way... (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884808)

How about they just publish a list for each department, stating the number of tax dollars they collect (spend). Then a brief summary of the public benefit provided by those dollars and the address where you can go to see all the gory public record details.

I agree the privacy issues of public records is something to be considered before dumping it on the Internet, but there should be no reason for not publishing high-level meta data about public spending... except the spenders might not want thousands of arm-chair amateur investigative journalists stirring up "trouble".

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31887568)

That's a dangerous line of thought... "You don't need to see this."

I think aside from direct personal information, demographic data like this is absolutely fine. It's just like any number of other concepts in this world - there are many ways in which it can be used in a harmful manner, but there are also just as many ways that it can be used in a beneficial manner. Just like free speech IMO.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#31888820)

Technically, if you throw all of that data online, there is no need to keep the brick-and-mortar buildings open decreasing cost substantially to the already bankrupt state.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (5, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884588)

All of that data had been available to large corporations who track that sort of thing.
All of that data is already publicly available - you just have to drive down to the individual offices.

Will it cause problems? I don't know.

Will it make government more transparent? I think so.

Well said. This is all publicly available stuff that would be available under the Freedom of Information Law. It just means that getting the stuff will be less dependent on (a) having money to spend and (b) having money for lawyers. I.e., it makes the process more democratic.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884992)

I think it probably is a good idea, except certain records will have to be exempt in the interests of privacy. But as has been pointed out, large corporations already have access to that data.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (2, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884520)

Don't like African Americans? I'll load up the "Negro avoider" app on my computer. And never have my commute disrupted again by the sight of people I don't like.

          I think that falls into "stupidity is its own reward" category.

        Brett

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884620)

Or what about the "victim finder" app for child molesters? Just take the data on family occupancies and compare to local crime statistics and police coverage and voila! Thanks Victim Finder!

This may be the most absurd "think of the chiiildren" argument I've ever heard ... and that's saying something.

First of all, the vast majority of molestation victims are attacked by family members, who don't exactly need demographic information to find their targets. Second, even in the very rare case of stranger-abduction attacks, do you really think they're going after children at home? Take a walk outside -- there's a good chance there's an elementary school within a few blocks of where you live.

As for your hypothetical "Negro avoider" bigot ... well, let him do what he wants. There are already lots of people who won't drive through "that part of town" where "those people live." As long as they're not burning crosses on people's lawns, who gives a damn?

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31885992)

First of all, the vast majority of molestation victims are attacked by family members, who don't exactly need demographic information to find their targets. Second, even in the very rare case of stranger-abduction attacks, do you really think they're going after children at home? Take a walk outside -- there's a good chance there's an elementary school within a few blocks of where you live.

Well yeah, of course that's the way it is now -- but when we all get the iVictimFinder app for our iPhones, just you wait, it's going to revolutionize the pedophile market!

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884650)

True, some 3rd part company should be benefiting from selling you data for the "iNegroAvoider" and "iVictimFinder".

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884664)

Uhh.. Do you really think people don't already know the basic demographics of the city they live in already? These aren't secrets, so examples are more than a little stupid. As far as your weird "child molester" app goes, somehow I don't think anyone will actually write that application. Even if somebody did, I find it more than a little hard to believe that the thing stopping child molesters is the lack of visualization software to commit their crimes.

Is that really the best you can come up with? Both are extraordinarily lame scenarios.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31885080)

Man. Can you really always only see the bad in everything?
I bet you can just as well list outlandish over-the-top horrors about everything that ever changed in the history of the universe, but that didn’t happen.

Everything has upsides and downsides.
Do you really want to never ever change anything, where you can find a downside? Because then you will really never ever change anything; period.

A government agency is still employed by us, the people. We’re their actual big boss. So they are obliged to show us the information. Or else it’s like you asking your boss for money, but not giving him any report, not answering his questions, and not proving that you’re actually doing anything of what you’re asked to do.
Except that an agency is not a person, and that agency information will not contain private infos about any employee.

Of course there still is data that must be kept private. Personal data from specific citizens. But there are already laws for that. (Or doesn’t your constitution or other basic law include privacy?)
I don’t think that information will ever be released anywhere.
What will be released, is of course things like: Where are the most female children living, or which parts are inhabitation by blacks. So what? That’s not something you can’t find out without it, if you want to.

Re:Oh my, the possibilities for disaster (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31885504)

How is it a bad thing if you want to avoid negroes on your commute? I'm white, if someone said they wanted to avoid whites on their commute, I would totally fucking understand. Jeez, you guys are fags.

Absolutely (1)

DABANSHEE (154661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31888556)

It's not illegal for people to want to avoid blacks, whites or whatever, & it's not illegal for one to even make an attempt. Plus it's not the govt's role to stop people avoiding each other if that's their wish. Surely personal freedom trumps political correctness. It's only the govt's job to regulate personal freedoms where one person's act infringes on anothers' personal freedom, hence the existence of criminal statutes/laws.

After all I assume the criminal code was not designed to encourage or discourage integration, assimilation, multiculturalism, ghetto-ism or any whatever ism, of course many have tried but that leads down the road to Auschwitz & Stalin's genocide of Kulaks, etc, etc or on the opposite extreme backlashes, riots, revolts & mob rule.

Better to keep the statutes as minimal as possible, as in where persons/collectives committs act/s that infringes others' personal freedoms (mind you there's a bit of defining required here), plus of course to protect our enviroment. There is no society/community/civilisation if people are allowed to fuck with the air, water, topsoil & biodiversity.

well, why not? (2, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884404)

We fund so-called 'sustainable energy' projects and other such things that aren't economically viable without government funding. Why not software too? And the return on investment is a lot better than a pile of wind mills, and no zoning laws or environmental impact studies to worry about.

Re:well, why not? (2, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884470)

We fund so-called 'sustainable energy' projects and other such things that aren't economically viable without government funding.

You do realize that the oil industry [reuters.com] has quite a few tax subsidies [rff.org] also, don't you? They've been getting them for years.

And the proposed plan is to grant public access to the data. Have you ever gone down to a government office and tried to get information on anything? A government clerk does the search. Sometimes, when they say they don't find anything, you just have to wonder how hard did they look. Especially some of those old crones that have been there for decades and short of going on a shooting spree, have absolutely no worry of being fired.

Re:well, why not? (2, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884662)

Have you ever gone down to a government office and tried to get information on anything? A government clerk does the search.

Yes, actually. Unless it's a pending court case, I don't have to speak to anyone. But the docket listings for each week are routinely published online, so if you want to be completely thorough, there you go. In my state (Minnesota) every public record since 1973 is searchable by going to the courthouse in Minneapolis and using one of two computer terminals that are free to the public. Before that, records are stored on microfische(sp?) and date back to the mid-1800s. there is a small fee to pull the relevant records. Be aware... Searching for anything on those antiquidated systems takes hours. They only charge for copies made either by computer or MF. That same database is available for a fee to private investigators and other people who have a bona fide reason to access public records regularily, and those fees support its maintenance.

New York, frankly, is a bit behind the times.

Re:well, why not? (3, Interesting)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31885076)

You do realize that the oil industry [reuters.com] has quite a few tax subsidies [rff.org] also, don't you? They've been getting them for years.

Sorry, but $2-36 billion in subsidies for the entire oil industry (from both links, the first I'm pretty sure is extremely inflated given the fact that even Greenpeace gives $35 billion as their highest estimate) doesn't seem that significant, considering Exxon alone paid $30 billion in taxes in 2007. Also, the oil industry pays a 4-5% higher tax rate than the rest of the market, so a 1-2% break doesn't seem all that bad, considering they already pay more than everybody else.

Add to that state and local taxes and you're looking at half of all revenues from the oil industry going to either a state or federal government.

If you bring the taxes more in line with the rest of the market and drop the subsidies, the oil industry is definitely economically viable. Do the same with nuclear, solar, or wind and the same is not true.

Anyway, back on topic, I'm all for putting public records online. Public records should be public, and since we have the technology to make public records easily accessible, we should do so.

If making a particular type of public record easily accessible causes significant harm, then we should be debating whether or not such records should be public in the first place, not whether or not they should be easily accessible.

Re:well, why not? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31885910)

Sorry, but $2-36 billion in subsidies for the entire oil industry (from both links, the first I'm pretty sure is extremely inflated given the fact that even Greenpeace gives $35 billion as their highest estimate) doesn't seem that significant,

So, billions of dollars in subsidies to a big industry don't count as subsidies, because the industry is so big? That's some wonderful reasoning/apologia you've got going there.

Re:well, why not? (2, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31886018)

Sorry, but $2-36 billion in subsidies for the entire oil industry (from both links, the first I'm pretty sure is extremely inflated given the fact that even Greenpeace gives $35 billion as their highest estimate) doesn't seem that significant, considering Exxon alone paid $30 billion in taxes in 2007.

I don't know about that, but in 2009, Exxon paid $0 in US income taxes, and Chevron only paid $200M. [forbes.com]

You think like a ReThuglican Jew (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31886108)

You think like a ReThuglican Jew

You forget the past (1)

DABANSHEE (154661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31888624)

Subsidies & govt intervention of the nascent oil industry were essential to the oil idustry as it exists today. For example you do know that BP was a creation of the Royal Navy.

Fossil fuels are very expensive from externalities (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891696)

Fossil fuel costs for defense and pollution easily rack up into hundreds of billions of dollars per year. As suggested in the book Brittle Power in 1982, renewable energy has been cheaper for decades than fossil fuels (or nuclear) when you include *all* the externalities.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittle_Power [wikipedia.org]

We just pay for fossil fuel use through our taxes and national debt for the military, and through health costs from mercury pollution and other forms of pollution that lead to health problems (even wonder why much fish is now unsafe to eat from mercury?), systemic risk like of economic disruption or global war over oil, and so on.
        http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461 [energyandcapital.com]

By the way, it takes more electricity and natural gas to refine a gallon of gasoline from oil than an electric car would need to go the same distance, so all that oil is completely wasted -- except it is profitable for some to fleece the public treasury.
    http://www.evnut.com/gasoline_oil.htm [evnut.com]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality [wikipedia.org]

GE had a cost-competetive production ready electric vehicle built from off-the-shelf parts built in the late 1970s -- you can see it in the Schenectady, NY science museum.

That our elected officials have allowed this public fleecing using fossil fuels, including the destruction of the health of our rivers, oceans, and humanity through smog and mercury, to go on since the Reagan years is an unspeakable tragedy of widespread corruption and ignorance which wider access to pubic records might help some with.

For the cost of less than one half-year of US defense spending the USA could shift to all renewables, eliminating the need for much of the defense budget.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan [scientificamerican.com]
    http://www.earth-policy.org/index.php?/books/pb3/pb3_table_of_contents [earth-policy.org]
    http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm [lexrex.com]

As Jimmy Carter said in 1979:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carter/filmmore/ps_crisis.html [pbs.org]
"""
We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.
    All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.
"""

Some more background (3, Interesting)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884422)

Who's this crazy loon? I wanna send some campaign donation.

All you need to know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31884550)

Don't bother, he's a godless, hell-bound faggot [bisocialnews.com] .

Re:All you need to know (0, Offtopic)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884564)

Don't bother, he's a godless, hell-bound faggot [bisocialnews.com] .

You have got to be fucking kidding me. He just has to be bisexual! Now no matter what his politics and policies are, he'll never be able to accomplish much of anything.

Re:All you need to know (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884678)

You have got to be fucking kidding me. He just has to be bisexual! Now no matter what his politics and policies are, he'll never be able to accomplish much of anything.

Such bigotry demands a response, but as this is a geek website, I'll leave it as [ citation needed ].

Re:All you need to know (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884702)

Such bigotry demands a response, but as this is a geek website, I'll leave it as [ citation needed ].

I have no problem with gays. I'm talking about the millions of voters who do.

Re:All you need to know (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884714)

I have no problem with gays. I'm talking about the millions of voters who do.

Well they should know by now that republican gay senators get the job done just as well as their straight counterparts. You know, until they get busted in the bathroom. Then for some very strange reason, they become incompetent to hold public office. I wish someone would do a scientific study on the phenomenon -- it's a problem that potentially effects tens of millions of people. The reason for all this rampant stupidity in the country could be solved by simply posting signs saying "One occupant per stall". /tongue-in-cheek

Re:All you need to know (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884888)

Also, you have to look at the number of wealthy people who contribute huge sums to political campaigns, and wonder how many of them would support an openly bi-sexual man.

Re:All you need to know (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31885088)

Yeah, it's not like we have an openly gay chairman of a major congressional committee [house.gov] or anything...

Re:All you need to know (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31885472)

Yeah, it's not like we have an openly gay chairman of a major congressional committee [house.gov] or anything...

The exception to the rule ;)

Re:All you need to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31885544)

;(

Re:All you need to know (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31885552)

It also depends on your politics. If you're a social conservative and you are outed, your political career is OVER. If you are a liberal, you have a lot more wiggle room.

Re:All you need to know (0, Offtopic)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884602)

God damn chickenshit posting AC.

Everybody's for it... (1)

reverendbeer (1496637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884502)

...until they have to pay for it.

Re:Everybody's for it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31884548)

by comparison, this won't have any significant long terms costs. The real cost is in collecting, organizing, and filing this data, which they already do.

Where will the money come from (1, Troll)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884670)

NY doesn't have a lot of money right now. Every group that gets money from the state is botching and moaning that they are not getting enough. So let's spread the thinner to pay for a new project won't help.

There is the argument if you give people these jobs you will help the echonomy. However if this were to go across it would probably in Albany NY (you know the state capital that is about 200 miles from the city) where honestly has fared the recession rather well so these extra jobs won't have such a pronounced efffect in the echonomy.

Re:Where will the money come from (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884794)

If you post all information online, then you, the pissy taxpayer, can go look and see exactly why there is no money. The project will cost almost no money. Its taking data the government already has and uses, and you can get with a Freedom of Information act, and probably doing it cheaper and easier then dealing with those.

Instead of going to your tea parties bitching about why the government spends all your money, you can go with a list, and bitch about line item X, Y, and Z, and actually have a productive argument, that someone might be able to fix.

Re:Where will the money come from (0, Offtopic)

shacky003 (1595307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31885570)

Obviously, you don't have a clue what you're talking about with NY's financial mess at the moment..

Speaking as someone who is following the mess in my state, people aren't "botching (great spelling) and moaning that they are not getting enough" - They are currently "bitching" and moaning because
the hardass in charge at the moment is using his "it's my way or the highway" attitude to piss -EVERYONE- off that deals with the budget, so they aren't trying very hard right now to get one passed.
While it sounds great to get into office on the "I'm going to clean up government" stance, it rarely ever happens when they DO get into office because the reality of having to work together comes into play..
BTW - to respond to your idiotic statement - people are currently bitching not because they want more money than they have gotten in the past - they are bitching because the payments for what they
HAVE BEEN GETTING have been stopped! Example: 31 state funded road projects dried up a week ago because the governor said he was stopping payment on ALL highway/road projects.. These projects
were already started.. Want to tell me why people don't have a reason to bitch because their road was ripped up, and then left unfinished? That is just one example.. They are also considering closing 9
schools in the city any day now because the state funding was stopped last week also - Are you telling me that the teachers who will be laid off, parents who will have to drive there kids 10+ miles to another
school every day due to no funding for bus routes don't have a reason to complain? With your level of spelling (echonomy? really?) You should be one of the first to complain about lack of quality education my
friend.. Try to state some actual facts next time you want to speak about anything NY budget related..

In case you want to whine about parents now needing to bus their own kids to school in another town, etc - How about the fact that the governor cancelled funding two months ago for low income assistance with
daycare in Erie County? 1500 families had to either magically start eating/spending $300 a week less to pay for daycare (that they already didn't have to spend) or they had to quit their jobs to go back to being
stay-at-home parents.. It was on the news every day for a month.. Yeah, but they are just whining, huh? And Albany is 130 miles away.. Check mark that geography standard as well..
Being that you wrote as if you're somewhere near NYC, you might want to know that 90% of my taxes in WNY go to your city (state-wide fact) - The entire state of NY subsidises NYC's budget every year, so
as long as I'm paying for your budget, how about you quit -your- whining.

Facts to back up everything I wrote: 1. living 5 miles from the second most depressed city in the US - 2. State budget (FY2009) and public tax records

Re:Where will the money come from (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31886448)

BTW great use of the carriage return you know computers now use auto wrap, and people have different resolution screens, my spelling is due to 1 using an iPhone to write the message and 2 having a learning disability that makes it difficult for me to catch every word I misspell. Gee thanks for pointing out my learning disability that is a great way to keep things civil (Liberal Wuss).

But you are not paying my budget so I can complain as much as I want.

What you can't seem to understand... How recently after Paterson got into office he pulled the alarm. I don't see it just because he is a hard ass but because he actually looked at the numbers and they are not good. I am sure if anyone else was governor we would be just like California. NY has for a long time been spending more than it should and poorly managed it finances. The recession just shows where the problems are.

Half Way Open (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884672)

I only worry if records are not absolutely open to all with ease of computerised search. Things go wrong when some people or some businesses are allowed to hide some information while other peoples' lives are an open book.

The Albany Handshake (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31884682)

Harper's had an article on the NY Legislature in this month's issue which can shed some light on this. It turns out that New York has one of the worst and most corrupt legislatures in the nation. The leadership controls everything and ordinary members are free to introduce popular legislation knowing full well it has no chance of passing. New York introduces more legislation than any other state and passes them in the single digits percentage-wise.

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/05/0082944

Re:The Albany Handshake (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31885032)

Link is paywalled. :P

Well ... (2, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884684)

... a detailed accounting of Spitzer's expenditures would have been interesting reading.

The Science Guy?! (1)

InvisibleClergy (1430277) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884738)

"Bill Nye Would Require Online State Records"

Re:The Science Guy?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31886046)

I've misread every article that's ever started with "NY Bill" this way.

Dear NY State (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31884754)

NY is running a 9 BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT.... quit spending New Yorker's (my) tax money on useless bullshit.

Think about it.... the state was considering IOUs for tax returns..... we cannot afford this right now.

Re:Dear NY State (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884804)

Um.. How can you afford not to know where your money is going right now?

Re:Dear NY State (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884990)

You can afford to not know because you can't do a damn thing about where it goes anyway. For the Federal government, you have a choice between it going either to military/industrial boondoggles or social welfare boondoggles. And sometimes, the party you think you voted for to get the boondoggle of your choice decides that they will give you the other one instead.

With the state governments, it's about the same. Their boondoggles are different, but in the end, just as far out of your control.

In theory, you are right. Voters should have more information to make decisions based on. However, even if a voter could make a meaningful decision, the amount of data couldn't possibly be analyzed by every voter. In the end, it's just a means by which special interest groups can do research more efficiently, because those are the only people who will be able to make any effective use of this data.

Re:Dear NY State (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31885000)

Right, and when these special interests are reporters, or Bloggers that later get the attention of reporters, its amazing how fast things change.

Re:Dear NY State (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31896638)

I can't believe the replays to this post. This is insanely expensive. I work for another state and every thing I do, all my meeting notes, all my e-mails, everything is open to public records. It would be a serious pain in the ass to put it all online. I don't work for free! We already waste a fortune following all sorts of stupid rules no private business would ever waste money on.

404 FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31884824)

You: I have a FOIA request for document FOO.
State agency: You can find it at http://www.ny.gov/opengov/123/sdoop1222233jj----/foo.2010.txt [ny.gov]
You: I tried to access it, but I get a 404 error.
State agency: Sorry, we are fixing the server, please try again later.

NYS Government Worker here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31885158)

As someone who works for a NY Government agency, I can see some pros and cons to this.

The main con results from the fact that State governments are by and large stocked with incompetents who don't have any clue regarding professional project planning, management, IT, budgeting, etc. So when the legislature passes a mandate, e.g. to put everything online, it will either be done in-house or contracted out, but neither option is good. In-house means it won't work, or it will work very badly, because the programmers are vastly underpaid compared to real IT workers, and generally come from the dregs of the computing world. Contracted ought to be better, but it usually isn't, because even in the miraculous event that the project isn't awarded to someone's brother-in-law's company, that is, even if the contract goes to a respected firm, the state will write up an indecipherable proposal or look to cut corners in ridiculous ways, such as buying overpriced off the shelf software that needs to be customized to work properly, but this step will fail because nobody will even know how to adequately explain what needs to be customized, so the software will never function adequately. Not to mention that the person who is in charge of the project will be rewarded for telling his superiors that everything is running smoothly, but would be taken off the project for pointing out mistakes, so officially things work perfectly even when they don't. That's true to an extent in private industry as well, but the crucial difference for the state is that nothing need ever be profitable or work competitively, so there is no incentive to finally iron out the bugs.

The main pro results from the fact that State governments are by and large stocked with incompetents. No matter how jaded you think you are, you would be shocked by the degree of decision making that is carried out by appointed bureaucrats in protected sinecures. Decisions that affect the daily lives of hundreds of thousands or millions of people are done completely by fiat with no political accountability whatsoever. The more that this is exposed, the better for everyone.

Re:NYS Government Worker here (2)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31887402)

No matter how jaded you think you are, you would be shocked by the degree of decision making that is carried out by appointed bureaucrats in protected sinecures. Decisions that affect the daily lives of hundreds of thousands or millions of people are done completely by fiat with no political accountability whatsoever. The more that this is exposed, the better for everyone.

That is why I think the cost argument against it is poorly taken. Because I think with greater accountability and transparency, there would be a major net gain, as less money would be expended on wasteful and purposeless things which are solely the result of political dealmaking, not genuine governance. Most bloggers and online journalists have no meaningful access to the records of these things; once these records were online, and the "blogosphere" could get its mitts on this stuff, the results will be hilarious. And ultimately beneficial.

It's a Bad Idea (1)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31885630)

When open records laws were first conceived, it mostly applied to such records as people would have legal concerns about - birth/death, who owns a piece of property, etc.

Here's the thing.

All those records were primarily local, and were kept as paper - there were no computers. So if you wanted a record, you had to go to the place it was kept, wait in a line, and pay a document fee so a government clerk could go make you an Official Copy of whatever record you wanted. The fee covered the cost of the clerk's time and supplies, which, considering how manual this task is, was appropriate.

So if you wanted to know any of this "open" information, it amounted to a fair amount of trouble and expense. But if you had a good reason to need/want to know, you could know, and it wasn't a problem.

But today, with computers and intarwebs and such things, these records are free and pretty broadly available. So someone who, say, wants to letter bomb the residents and owners of every apartment in a tri-county area, can do it with virtually no effort or expense.

This is not good.

Privacy was maintained not by legislation, but by the simple difficulty of getting things done.

Now that these things are easy, we need a higher standard to limit access, not a lower one.

Keep vital records offline, please.

Re:It's a Bad Idea (1)

kilo_foxtrot84 (1016017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31886934)

But today, with computers and intarwebs and such things, these records are free and pretty broadly available. So someone who, say, wants to letter bomb the residents and owners of every apartment in a tri-county area, can do it with virtually no effort or expense.

Not sure this is a very good argument. What's to stop someone from doing the same thing using a local phone book?

Re:It's a Bad Idea (2, Interesting)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892216)

Prevalence of cell phone ownership.
Understanding of property ownership.
Unlisted numbers.
Non-automated nature of phone records.
Limited name information in phone records. (A B Smith? Really?)

Getting government, online records faces none of these data quality issues.

liberty through inefficiency (1)

dlt074 (548126) | more than 4 years ago | (#31887570)

if this makes any part of the government more efficient i'm against it. there is little if anything the government does for me that i particularly enjoy or need. with that said. the less efficient they are, the less they can do to/for me and the more personal liberty i can enjoy. i fear what new and innovative ways this quicker manipulation of personal data the government will find to use against me.

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