State’s Highest Court Won’t Hear Empire Center’s Pension Appeal

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In a major blow to the Empire Center For State Policy’s long fight to make public a New York City police pension fund, the state Court of Appeals decided this month that it would not hear the case.

The lower court’s ruling to keep private the pensioners’ names spurred most New York City pension funds and the state Teachers Retirement Fund to also shutter their records from the public.

The decision by the state’s highest court was the result of a discrepancy between the conservative Albany-based group and New York City over when the clock started for the Empire Center to file its appeal.

“The Court of Appeals today declined Empire Center’s motion for leave to appeal in its FOIL proceeding to obtain the names of police pensioners in New York City as untimely,” the Empire Center’s lawyer, David Schulz, wrote in an email Feb. 14 to newspaper editors and attorneys who filed an amicus brief in support of the group’s case. Gannett Inc. was among those who signed onto the amicus brief.

The Police Pension Fund contended that it properly notified the Empire Center’s of the Appellate Court’s ruling — which then started the 30-day clock to file a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals. Empire Center didn’t view the pension fund’s notification as a formal notice that started the appeal clock. But the Court of Appeals sided with the pension fund and thus declined to hear the case, saying the deadline had expired.

The Empire Center for New York State Policy, a fiscally conservative group based in Albany, had sought the police pension information for inclusion in its searchable online database of salaries and pensions, at www.SeeThroughNY.net.

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