FOIL expert says legal billing records withheld by Westchester should be disclosed

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Robert Freeman, the executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, said Wednesday that records showing the cost of the legal work arising from Westchester’s 2009 fair housing settlement are public and should be released.astorinosettlement

The Westchester County Law Department denied a Freedom of Information request for the records on the grounds that they are attorney work product and attorney-client communication. The administration of County Executive Rob Astorino has taken two fights over the interpretation of the settlement to the federal Court of Appeals, racking up many hours of legal work, and has asked for permission from the Board of Legislators to bring a new challenge. For a story click here (Freeman was unavailable last week to comment.).

Years of case law say the billing records of the attorneys in the county Law Department are public records, Freeman said. The only undisclosable portions would be information on litigation strategy that could be redacted, he said.

Photo: Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino discusses the 2009 fair-housing settlement at a press conference at the County Office Building in White Plains. Alyson Velati/The Journal News

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  1. Just another futile chapter in the Astorino administration record of no accomplishment acting as stewards of the highest taxing municipality in the U.S. They can’t accomplish anything positive because they are only concerned with running a campaign for Governor and hiring unqualified cronies to work on campaigns rather than quality public administration. Westchester has also received a lowered credit rating due to their mismanagement. Many Westchester taxpayers are sorry to see this “pipsqueak” using public office in Westchester as a platform for running for governor. If he can’t do anything for Westchester, what could he do as Governor? Oh where or where are our County Legislators? It seems like Westchester County Government has become useless with Astorino at the helm.