Judge Lobis rules against Mayor de Blasio, ordering release of "Agents of the City" e-mails

In the Decision and Order, Judge Joan Lobis wrote that Mayor de Blasio was "seeking to apply the inter-agency or intra-agency deliberative privilege to someone who is not part of the Mayor's office" ....

Mayor de Blasio intends to appeal the Court ruling.

By LOUIS FLORES

New York State Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis filed a Decision and Order on Thursday, in which she ruled that correspondence between Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) and one of his trusted political advisors, the unregistered lobbyist Jonathan Rosen, were "not exempt from disclosure" under one of the privileges in the State's Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL.

The ruling caps protracted state court litigation seeking the release of e-mails between Mayor de Blasio and City Hall and Mr. Rosen and his consulting firm, BerlinRosen. The litigation was filed by the political reporters Grace Rauh and Yoav Gonen and their respective employers, the cable news channel NY1 and tabloid daily, The New York Post.

In ruling that correspondence between Mayor de Blasio and Mr. Rosen were not exempt from disclosure, the Hon. Judge Lobis also found that correspondence between Mayor de Blasio and employees of BerlinRosen were also not exempt.

On Thanksgiving Eve 2016, City Hall dumped over 1,000 pages of e-mails, representing a partial production of documents that had been being sought by the FOIL Lawsuit, a disclosure noted by the Hon. Judge Lobis in supporting the findings in her ruling. The Court also considered the fact that the de Blasio administration announced in December 2016 that "they would no longer claim a privilege with respect to future e-mails" between Mayor de Blasio and unpaid outside political advisors, according to the Decision and Order.

At a press conference on Thursday, Mayor de Blasio emphatically declined to answer any questions about the adverse judicial ruling. A request for an interview made by Progress Queens was not answered by the City Hall press office for this report. Mayor de Blasio's press representatives have historically refused to answer press requests made by news outlets, which publish reports that have been critical of his administration. Mayor de Blasio's designated press official for community and ethnic press outlets, Jessica Ramos, has ignored press requests made by Progress Queens to the City Hall press office. It was noted in a report published by The New York Post of the Court ruling that Mayor de Blasio intended to appeal the Hon. Judge Lobis's Decision and Order. The Decision and Order also awarded NY1 and The New York Post reïmbursement of attorneys' fees.

During the tenure of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the former top Federal prosecutor for New York's southern district complained about the deliberate efforts made by some Government officials to obstruct the release of information about the Government's business. At a 2013 speech delivered before the Citizens Crime Commission, Mr. Bharara said, in relevant part, that "... [T]here is a substantial transparency problem throughout New York government." The remark was made in a speech in which Mr. Bharara was enumerating possible conditions that contribute to the commission of political and campaign corruption.

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