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Citizens Union / Common Cause / NYPIRG Letter to Mayor Bloomberg Regarding the Giuliani Papers

Citizens Union
198 Broadway
New York, NY 10038
(212) 227-0342

Common Cause/NY
39 West 32nd Street
New York, NY 10007
(212) 349-6460

New York Public Interest Research Group
9 Murray Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 564-4365

January 25, 2002

Hon. Michael Cardozo
Corporation Counsel
59 Maiden Lane, 28th Floor
New York, NY 10038


Dear Michael: We write to urge that the City of New York take action to safeguard public access to the records of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Specifically, we ask that the City either exercise its right to cancel its December 24th contract with the Rudolph W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs regarding the "official papers, records and other documents" of the 107th mayor of the City of New York - or that the City renegotiate key terms of that agreement.

The stated goal of the December 24th contract is "to properly archive and maintain [mayoral] documents, so that they may be conveniently available for scholarly research and general public access." But our groups are concerned that the nature and terms of the arrangement will likely undermine these important goals. Among our key concerns are:

(1) Clause M of Article I of the agreement grants former Mayor Giuliani a broad and ill-defined power to block access to archival materials. The clause says: "Whenever Rudolph W. Giuliani has a personal interest or right in a Document separate and apart from the interests and rights of the City, his approval shall be required before any such document may be released or disclosed to the public." No standards are set for what constitutes a "personal interest" nor is there any procedure put in place for the public to contest his determination, as there would be under the New York State Freedom of Information Law. Mayor Giuliani's interests in personal privacy are already protected by other provisions of state law.

(2) Our groups believe that the archival documents should be managed by an independent academic institution, as are the records of former Mayor Edward I. Koch. Little is now known about the Rudolph W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs, which did not have a board in place at the time that the agreement was negotiated. While the contract gives the City ultimate authority over the documents as a practical matter much of the day-to-day decisions will be made by the entity in possession of the archives. For that reason, we prefer that the documents be housed and maintained by an existing university or other academic institution.

(3) There should be an opportunity for the charter-based Municipal Archives, Reference and Research Advisory Board to comment on any contract involving mayoral archives, as well as for public review. It is our understanding that was not the case with this agreement. From recent public comments, this is a great deal of interest among archivists and historians.

Article II allows the City to terminate the agreement for "any reason upon 90 days written notice." For the concerns above, we urge you to exercise that option or to renegotiate the contract terms in light of the serious problems with the contract.

Yours truly,
Rachel Leon - Gene Russianoff - Linda Stone Davidoff
Common Cause/NY - NYPIRG - Citizens Union

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Add your Name to the Petition | Press Conference, Feb. 6, 2002 | Protest Letters | News Articles | Testimony at the Feb. 20, 2002 City Council Hearing |
Defending the archives contract: Saul Cohen, President, Rudy Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs