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NYCLU Letter to NYS Department of State Regarding the Giuliani Papers

NEW YORK CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION
125 Broad Street, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Telephone (212) 344-3005, Fax (212) 344-3318
www.nyclu.org


February 6, 2002

Robert Freeman, Executive Director
New York State Department of State
Committee on Open Government
41 State Street
Albany, NY 12231

Re: Advisory Opinion concerning a Contract between the City of New York and the Rudolph W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs Inc.


Dear Mr. Freeman:

Pursuant to section 89(1)(b)(ii) of the New York Public Officers Law, we seek an advisory opinion from the Committee on Open Government on the following issues.

We request the Committee to review the attached contract, dated December 24, 2001, between the City of New York and the Rudolph W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs Inc. (the "Contract"). Pursuant to the terms of the Contract, all of the records of the Giuliani mayoralty were transferred out of the direct custody and control of the New York City Department of Records and Information Services and the Municipal Archives ("DORIS") to a private warehouse facility storage space controlled by the Rudolph W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs Inc.

We request that you issue an advisory opinion as to whether the procedural and substantive provisions set forth in the Contract violate New York State's Freedom of Information Law.

In addition to the more obvious provisions of the Contract, such as that set forth in Article I(M), which purports to authorize Mr. Giuliani to claim unilaterally a "personal interest or right" in a document and to thereby withhold disclosure of the document, we also request that you consider whether the actions of DORIS in transmitting the records of the Giuliani mayoralty to custody of the Giuliani Center without the compilation of a more detailed list than that appended to the Contract as Attachment A constitutes a violation of section 87(3)(c) of the Public Officer Law.

The facts, as we understand them, surrounding the execution of the Contract and the subsequent transfer of the records of the Giuliani mayoralty are as follows. On or about December 24, 2001, Commissioner George Rios, on behalf of the City of New York and/or the Department of Records and Information Services of the City of New York, entered into a contract with the Rudolph W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs Inc., signed by Saul Cohen, President, concerning the records of the mayoralty of Rudolph Giuliani. The records are said to comprise some 2000 boxes and include appointment books, cabinet meeting audiotapes, e-mails, telephone logs, advance and briefing memos, correspondence, transition materials, and private schedules, as well as Mr. Giuliani's departmental, travel, event, subject, and Gracie Mansion files. Giuliani's "World Trade Center files" and "Millennium Project files," together with 6000 files of photographs, 1000 audiotapes, and 15,000 videotapes, are also reported to be a part of the records covered by the contract. In addition, the records include those of his chief of staff and every deputy mayor, together with their chiefs of staff. Finally, gifts such as plaques, awards, personalized clothing, and other items presented to the mayor and deputy mayors, as well as World Trade Center-related materials are alleged to be included as part of the records. All of these items were reported to have been delivered from the control of the City to a warehouse storage facility in Long Island City at the end of December 2001. We are unaware that DORIS has compiled a more detailed list of the records transferred than that appended to the Contract as Attachment A.

We thank the Committee for its prompt attention to our request. Should you have any questions with reference to our request, please feel free to contact either any of us at 212.344.3005.

Very truly yours,
Donna Lieberman
Arthur Eisenberg
Beth Haroules

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Defending the archives contract: Saul Cohen, President, Rudy Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs