It’s easier to acquire documents listing Nassau and Suffolk county authorities’ secret investigative files than obtain records detailing taxpayer-funded workers’ salaries in the villages of Island Park, Manorhaven or Port Jefferson.

Those were among the many findings of an unprecedented audit of 195 Long Island municipalities and agencies’ responsiveness to the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), the four-decade-old process that the public, media and others use to obtain government documents. The data was compiled into the first-ever Long Island Government Transparency Report Card grading local agencies’ compliance with open records laws, a 16-month-long project in which the Long Island Press collaborated with the Press Club of Long Island (PCLI), where this reporter chairs the Freedom of Information Committee. The cumulative grade that LI localities received for FOIL compliance is a ‘C.’

“I’m not sure that, in some government agencies, government officials are as receptive to the public and the news media as they should be,” Robert Freeman, executive director of the Committee on Open Government (COOG), said after reviewing the results. “I think the public has the right to expect that government will do the right thing. Unfortunately, that does not happen as frequently or as routinely as it should.”

The report was released in time for Sunshine Week, an annual, national initiative highlighting the importance of access to public records.

KEY FINDINGS

  • 64% of agencies (125) failed to respond to our requests by the legally required deadlines.
  • 46% of agencies (90) failed to provide a list of documents they’re required to maintain.
  • 44% of agencies (86) had directions on their websites explaining how to request records.
  • 32% of villages (31) did not provide FOIL policies, which we found in their codes.
  • 24% of agencies (47) failed to maintain their own FOIL policies as required by law.
  • 17% of agencies (33) scored failing grades.
  • 16% of agencies (32) forced us to appeal the denial of our requests.
  • 15% of agencies (29) charged for copies of the documents, which we wanted emailed.
  • 6 agencies (3%) failed to provide their payroll listing as required by law.
  • The Village of Lindenhurst was the only village unable to provide minutes of its latest board meetings.
  • The Village of Sands Point was the only agency on LI that violated rules against charging exorbitant amounts for documents when it billed us $150 for a copy of its payroll list.

Nassau County agencies scored an average of D+. Suffolk agencies got a C+. The 13 towns and two cities averaged a B grade. The average grade for the 96 villages was C.

Click here to view the complete, searchable results.

The audit followed the guidelines set by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), a nonprofit trade group, members of which semi-regularly issue similar reports nationwide. SPJ advises reporters not to tell the targets of the audit that they are being audited so as to not taint the results. The group also suggests that reporters request records in person and not identify themselves as journalists in order to test how the agencies respond to the public, but in our case, this reporter identified himself as a member of the press. The requests were mostly made via email except in the cases of agencies for which no email address could be found, in which cases we mailed our requests.

“Freedom of information laws exist for a reason, and the results of the audit are pretty eye-opening,” said Chris R. Vaccaro, president of PCLI, the local chapter of SPJ. “It’s our hope that the audit will eventually help improve transparency by local governments and agencies that received low grades. We also commend the governments and agencies that scored high marks.”

With PCLI’s financial backing, we spent $892.72 requesting documents from 84 Nassau and Suffolk county agencies, all 96 villages, 13 towns and two cities across Long Island beginning in October, 2015. The biggest bill came from the Town of Islip, which charged $221 because minutes of their town board meetings were only available in the form of transcripts. Only 29 agencies—15 percent of those audited—actually billed us, since most complied with our request to email us electronic copies of the documents or didn’t charge for paper copies.

In our report card, agencies were graded on whether they responded to records requests within legal deadlines, if they provided documents that FOIL requires them to maintain, if they denied requests in writing, if they identified their FOIL denial appeals officer, if we had to appeal an improper denial and if they emailed the documents when requested, all of which is required by law. They were also graded on two sets of criteria that didn’t involve the law: how many times we had to follow up and their helpfulness, such as turning over documents well ahead of legal deadlines, or unhelpfulness, such as requiring us to go to their office to pick up files in person.

On a grading system considered D- as a passing grade and the highest grade possible as A+, we graded municipalities’ responsiveness on a 10-point scale and county agencies were graded on a 9-point scale, with half points possible. The reason for the different scales was because one of the documents that governments are required to maintain and provide upon request are minutes of legislative meetings. Since the Nassau and Suffolk legislatures each have archives of their minutes and recordings of their meetings online, we didn’t make those requests of them. But we did request the agendas and minutes of the five most recent board meetings for the towns, villages and cities. County agencies were not asked to provide minutes because most don’t hold public meetings. Only the Village of Lindenhurst failed to provide its minutes.

Six agencies failed to provide a payroll list detailing the names, titles and salaries of current employees—one of the documents that all agencies are required to maintain and provide upon request under FOIL. Another document we requested of all agencies that they’re required to maintain was copies of their FOIL policies detailing how they respond to such requests.

We also requested copies of agencies’ subject matter listings, a lesser-known document that agencies are required to maintain. The document is essentially a list of the types of records that agencies keep on file. A suitable alternative is if an agency indicated that it follows the state’s Records Retention and Disposition Schedule, which COOG recommended municipalities formally adopt.

In addition to those files, all agencies were also asked to provide copies of the log of their records requests and their log of subpoenas—documents that any agency can maintain. In this part of the audit, since agencies aren’t required by law to maintain either document, if those requests were not approved—whether because the files don’t exist or another reason—no points were deducted in the report card. But, if they provided these non-required documents, they got a point in the helpfulness category.

Although the audit graded nearly 200 villages, towns and county agencies, hundreds more local government agencies were not audited, including school districts, fire districts and other taxpayer-funded special districts scattered across LI.

We stopped short of taking nonresponsive agencies to court to ask a judge to compel them to release public documents, which is the next step under FOIL when an appeal of a records request denial is also denied. Under the law, a judge can award attorneys fees in such cases to the plaintiffs, should the case be decided in their favor. Judges sometimes order non-compliant agency staffers to take FOIL refresher courses led by the state Committee on Open Government, which also regularly publishes non-binding advisory opinions on FOIL issues brought to its attention.

At the conclusion of the audit process, we requested comments from all of the local governments and agencies that were queried. Comments from those that responded are included in this report.

The lowest grade was zero, shared by the Suffolk County Office of Minority Affairs and the Village of Island Park. The minority affairs office did not respond to our requests and no payroll list was provided for it by the county. Island Park stood out as the only village on Long Island that did not respond to any of our eight attempts to request its records until we asked for a comment on its failing grade.

Village of Roslyn Harbor, which also received a failing grade, was the most hostile government encountered in the audit process. “We might not have time to entertain every whim that comes across our desk,” said Valerie Onorato, the village  clerk-treasurer, after requiring us to go to village hall to fulfill the request, provide identification that she photocopied and write down the reason for the request for the village’s payroll. Onorato repeatedly said: “Nothing good will come of this.” She subsequently left the job.

Municipalities and agencies that scored an A+ include Nassau Community College and in Suffolk County government, the Clerk of the Legislature, County Clerk, Fire and Rescue Services, and the departments of Public Works, Social Services and Information Technology. Also earning A+ grades were the towns of Huntington, Riverhead, Southampton and Southold and the villages of Lattingtown and Lynbrook.

The agencies that responded the quickest were the villages of Sagaponack and Amityville, which provided their response on the same day that we filed the request. The agency that took the longest to complete its response to our request was the Nassau County Fire Marshal’s office–338 days.

“The Freedom of Information Law is a central component of public integrity and disclosure,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his 2016 State of the State address while chiding the scandal-scarred State Legislature to stop exempting itself from FOIL.

“New Yorkers expect and deserve local government to be a place where access to public information is not Impeded by unnecessary bureaucratic barriers,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, a nonprofit good government group. “Now more than ever, we must work to strengthen our democracy by keeping government transparent, accountable, and responsive to all individuals, especially the press. Common Cause New York applauds the good work of the Long Island Press in revealing the inconsistencies and challenges in accessing public records across Long Island.”

GRADING CRITERIA

  1. Met legal deadline to acknowledge request within five business days and then either granted, denied or requested an extension on the request within 20 business days.
  2. Provided list of names of employees detailing their names, titles, offices and salaries, a list that government agencies are required by law to maintain and provide upon request.
  3. Provided the subject matter listing, a document listing the types of records that the agency keeps on file, which agencies are also required to maintain and provide upon request.
  4. Provided a copy of the agency’s policy detailing its protocol for responding to records requests, a policy which FOIL law requires municipalities to codify. Local governments are required to have a written FOIL policy that stipulates who the freedom of information officer is, what hours a person making a FOIL request can pick up files, to whom appeals of record request denials should be made, and other information.
  5. Provided copies of the five most recent minutes of legislative meetings, which legislative bodies are legally required to maintain and provide within two weeks of meeting. This request was only sent to villages, cities and towns, not the counties.
  6. Governments and agencies received a point if we didn’t have to appeal a denial of a FOIL request, got a half point if we had appeal a denial that was in writing explaining why a request was denied and stated to whom an appeal of a FOIL denial should be made, as required by law, but agencies were deducted a point if we had to appeal and the agency didn’t respond to the appeal within 10 days as required by law.
  7. Governments and agencies received a point if they didn’t charge us for electronic copies of requested documents or charged us the legally allowed 25 cents per page for paper copies. They lost a point for excessive fees.
  8. Governments and agencies received a point if we didn’t have to follow up for a response, lost a half point if we had to follow up once, lost a full point if we had to follow up twice and were deducted a point if we had to follow up three or more times.
  9. Governments and agencies received a point if they provided the documents via email but received no points if they were only able to send paper copies in the mail. A half point was awarded if a portion of the documents were emailed.
  10. In the helpfulness category, governments and agencies received one point for turning over the documents well before the legal deadline, sending documents they’re not required to maintain—including board meeting agendas, FOIL logs or subpoena logs—emailing copies of documents listed on their website when they could have sent a link or having directions on their website explaining how to request records. No points were given for referencing a website homepage instead of providing the documents, charging us for paper copies of documents found on their website or for not having any information on how to file a FOIL on the agency’s website. Agencies were deducted a point for denying a request on the basis that the request is burdensome or the agency lacks sufficient staffing—excuses expressly forbidden by law—asking why we requested the documents, requiring us to provide ID to obtain the records or requiring us to go to the government office to pick them up. No more than one point could be given or taken away in this category. Because the grade in this category is based on the summary of all applicable factors for each agency, some were able to score a grade of 100% while earning a point in this category for one factor but also getting a 0 for another.

NASSAU COUNTY GOVERNMENT: Grade 68 or D+

Nassau County has an online FOIL submission tool on its website, but we first submitted our requests directly to the agencies. Although some agencies didn’t respond to or fulfill our requests, the Nassau County Comptroller’s Office sent the payroll for all the county’s 15,561 employees as of Jan. 5, 2016. The cumulative grade for Nassau County is D+.

Department of Aging: 89 or B+. Days to receive information: 85
This agency administers federal, state and county programs for residents ages 60 and over. Three business days after we emailed our request to the department, we received a letter acknowledging it. The agency scored points for emailing its payroll list and FOIL policy by the 20-day deadline and requesting a 30-day extension for the subject matter listing, which it provided in time for another point. The agency got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Assessor’s Office: 22 or F. Days: N/A
This office is tasked with determining the value of commercial and residential properties to determine their property tax rates. A month after we mailed our request to the office, a staffer who didn’t identify their agency emailed us to say that our request was received. After we clarified who the acknowledgement was from, we followed up for an update on the status of the request. Upon our second follow up, the staffer told us to resend the request. When we didn’t hear back, we filed an appeal, which was acknowledged but we never received any documents from this agency. It got one point in the helpfulness category for having directions on its web page detailing how to file a FOIL request and the county comptroller provided the payroll list for the agency. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Assessment Review Commission: 72 or C- Days: 232
This commission, which is separate from the county assessor’s office, is responsible for reviewing applications requesting corrections to property tax assessments. One day after we emailed our request to the commission, a staffer replied to acknowledge it. On the 20-day deadline, the agency scored points for emailing its payroll list. The agency requested five extensions before it provides its subject matter listing eight months later for a point. It missed the last deadline by 10 days, scoring a half point for its response time. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. It got no points in the helpfulness category since there was no information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

County Attorney: 94 or A. Days: 73
This agency is responsible for defending the county in lawsuits, providing legal advice to county officials and handling appeals of FOIL request denials, among other duties. We mailed our request to the county attorney’s office and received an acknowledgement within the five-day deadline, but the 20-day deadline passed by the time we received an update, resulting in a half point for its response time. The agency requested a 30-day extension and scored points for emailing its payroll list, subject matter listing and FOIL policy. It got a point in the helpfulness category for providing the FOIL log for the entire county, which it isn’t required to maintain, but got no points since there was no information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Consumer Affairs: 89 or B+. Days: 38
This department enforces licensing requirements, investigates consumer complaints of commercial malfeasance and other duties. We mailed our request to the department and received an acknowledgement and response within the legal deadlines. The department scored points for sending its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It lost a half point because we had to follow up to get that last document. It got a half point for partially emailing its response. It got one point in the helpfulness category for having directions on its web page detailing how to file a FOIL request. The commissioner declined to comment on the agency’s grade.

Coordinated Agency for Spanish Americans: 83 or B. Days: 72
This agency, known as CASA for short, helps Latino and Hispanic immigrants integrate and work toward citizenship. Our first attempt to mail our request to this agency was returned to sender, so we refiled it online and received an automated acknowledgement, but the 20-day deadline passed before we heard an update, resulting in a half point for its response time. The agency scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It got no points in the helpfulness category since there was no information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Civil Service Commission: 67 or D+. Days: 248
This department oversees personnel actions taken by the county. We mailed our request to the commission and within the five-day deadline we received a letter of acknowledgement that indicated that we’d hear back in 30 days, but that deadline passed without an update, resulting in a half point for the commission’s response time. After we called for an update, a staffer said that we should receive a response within two weeks, but then the commission sent a letter indicating that we would received a response by March 1, 2016 due to staff cuts and the size of the request, but the commission missed that deadline too. We followed up, resulting in the loss of a half point, and after we didn’t get a response, constituting a denial, we filed an appeal, resulting in the loss of another point since the agency neither provided a written denial nor identified its FOIL appeals officer. It later scored points for providing copies of its FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not emailing the documents as requested. Instead, it charged us $5.25 for paper copies, earning a point. The comptroller’s office provided the payroll list for the commission. The commission got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

County Clerk: 72 or C-. Days: 92
This agency is responsible for storing and maintaining copies of official county records. When we emailed our request to the office without receiving a reply, we sent our request a second time through the county’s FOIL submission website. A day later, a staffer called to refer us to the comptroller’s officer for the payroll list, which provided the records on the office’s behalf. The staffer first said that the agency doesn’t have a subject matter listing and that we’d hear back on other documents requested, but a second staffer later emailed us to check the office’s website, where no such document was found. That was after the 20-day deadline passed, resulting in a half point for the agency’s response time. We wrote back asking for a direct link since no such document could be found and the staffer sent a link to uslandrecords.com, a search engine for municipal clerks nationwide. Since the agency never provided its own subject matter listing, it lost a point in that category. Since we had to follow up twice, the agency lost another point. It got a point for providing its FOIL policy and it got another point in the helpfulness category for having directions on its web page detailing how to file a FOIL request. In response to their grade, the agency said it has worked to improve its FOIL procedures. “The Nassau County Clerk’s Office has reviewed the procedures for responding to a FOIL request,” Deputy County Clerk Cheryl A. Max said. “We regret that your request was not initially handled appropriately. FOIL requests often require significant time and resources to compile the requested information/documents and we have implemented steps to ensure that, in the future, our response is prompt and complete. We are disappointed that our score does not reflect the commitment we have in assisting the public in obtaining information through both formal and informal inquiries.”

Clerk of the Legislature: 50 or F. Days: 68
This clerk is tasked with maintaining county legislative records and transcripts of the board’s meetings. The day after we emailed our request to the office, we were included on an email chain between the clerk and the county attorney’s office debating whether the information we requested was subject to FOIL. Three business days later, we received a letter acknowledging the request, but the 20-day deadline lapsed before we received an update, so the agency got a half point for its response time. The office lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing and another for not providing a written FOIL policy. The clerk stated that we would receive the payroll records, but we followed up twice, resulting in the loss of a point, and the agency never provided the information. The comptroller’s office later provided the payroll list for this office. It got no points in the helpfulness category since there was no information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The office did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Comptroller: 67 or D+. Days: 68
The comptroller is responsible for auditing county agencies, processing county payroll and issuing annual financial statements, among other duties. This agency acknowledged receiving our request on the same day we sent it and five business days later, it sent a letter indicating that we would receive a response in 14 business days, but that deadline passed without an update, resulting in a half point for its response time. When we followed up, resulting in the loss of a half point, the office scored points for emailing the payroll list for the entire county workforce. The agency lost points for neither providing a subject matter listing nor a written FOIL policy. It got no points in the helpfulness category since there was no information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos’ spokeswoman, Karen Green, dismissed the results. “The Comptroller’s Office has been recognized as the most transparent office in the State by ReclaimNY for being one of the first counties to place all contracts and the county checkbook online since 2014,” she said. “Your poll consisting of one event cannot be used to rank any issue or performance. Such a ‘poll’ used for any ranking would be disingenuous and it would be incorrect to refer it as a ‘poll.’ The Comptroller’s Office has a well established reputation of working with the press and always going the extra mile to provide timely responses to all FOIL requests. Additionally, you incorrectly assert that we did not provide a “subject matter listing” or the Comptroller’s “FOIL policy.” In these categories, our counsel responded by denying the “subject matter listing” as it is not maintained by this office and the “FOIL policy” requested was responded as being the FOIL Law.”

Nassau Community College: 100 or A+. Days: 37
With more than 20,000 students, NCC, which offers two-year associate degrees, is the largest single-campus community college in New York State. Five business days after we emailed our request to the college, we received a reply acknowledging it and then we received a response within the 20-day deadline, earning a point for its response time. The college scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It also got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log and subpoena log that it’s not required to maintain but got no points since there was no information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The college did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

District Attorney: 78 or C+. Days: 36
This agency prosecutes criminal defendants, conducts investigations and seeks justice for crime victims. Four business days after we emailed our request, the agency replied with a letter acknowledging it and then sent a $3.50 bill for paper copies of the records. The agency got a point for its response time but lost a point for not emailing the records. It scored points for sending its payroll list and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain and got no points since there was no information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, disputed the grade. “As most Long Island journalists know, the District Attorney’s office regularly provides public information quickly, electronically, without requiring a burdensome FOIL requests,” he said. “This office fully complies with our obligations under FOIL and this score does not fairly reflect our longstanding commitment to transparency.”

Office of Economic Development: 6 or F. Days: N/A
This agency lists its duties as promoting sustainable growth, expanding the tax base and improving the quality of life. Since an email address could not be found for this agency, we sent our request in the mail but did not receive a response. We then refiled our request through the county’s FOIL website and received an automatic reply indicating that it was being processed, but again we didn’t hear back, resulting in the loss of a point for its response time and the loss of another half point because we had to follow up. The lack of a response constituted a denial, which we appealed, but the appeal was not acknowledged, resulting in the deduction of a point. The comptroller provided the payroll list for the agency. The agency got no points in the helpfulness category since there was no information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Office of Emergency Management: 56 or F. Days: 60
This department coordinates with other agencies in preparing for and responding to natural and manmade disasters. We emailed our request to the office and received a letter postmarked 10 days later acknowledging it and a bill for $3 after the 20-day deadline passed, resulting in the loss of a point for its response time. It also lost a point for not emailing the records, some of which were clearly printed from internet pages. It scored a point for sending its payroll list but lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain and got no points since there was no information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency could not be reached for comment on its grade.

Board of Elections: 83 or B. Days: 103
This board is responsible for the operation of polling places, counting ballots and certifying winners of elections. When we emailed our request twice to the board without a reply, we followed up a third time and received an acknowledgement after the five-day deadline, but once we got in touch, the staff said we’d receive a response in 14 days, resulting in the loss of a point for the board’s response time. A staffer blamed the delay on the board being too busy to reply due to Election Day. The board scored points for emailing its subject matter listing and FOIL policy. The comptroller’s office supplied the payroll list for the board. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Board of Ethics: 61 or D-. Days: 82
This board is responsible for enforcing the county’s ethics codes, ensuring employees required to file financial disclosure forms do so and issuing advisory opinions when questions of conflicts of interest arise, among other duties. Since we could not find an email address for this board, we mailed our request and received a letter acknowledging it 10 business days later from the county attorney’s office, and as the 20-day deadline neared, it requested an extension of two-to-three weeks, but that deadline passed without an update, resulting in a half point for the board’s response time. We followed up twice, resulting in the loss of a point, before the agency scored points for emailing its payroll list and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Executive’s Office: 22 or F. Days: N/A
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano heads the county’s executive branch and shapes Nassau’s legislative agenda and budget. We emailed our request to Mangano’s media representatives, but they did not confirm receiving it. Since the deadlines passed without a response, the office lost a point. When we followed up, we were directed to the county attorney’s office, which provided the county executive’s FOIL policy. The county comptroller provided the payroll list for the office. We followed up five more times with the county attorney’s office for the remaining documents, resulting in the deduction of a point. When the office later failed to respond, that was considered a denial, which we appealed, but the appeal went unacknowledged, resulting in the deduction of a point. The county executive’s office got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The county executive’s office did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Fire Marshal’s Office: 83 or B. Days: 338
This agency is tasked with conducting inspections, enforcing fire prevention laws, investigating suspected cases of arson and other duties. Four business days after we mailed our request to the office we received a call acknowledging it. We later were referred to the human resources department for the payroll list, which we obtained from the comptroller’s office for a point. It got a point for providing its subject matter listing nearly a year after we filed the request. It got a point for providing its FOIL policy and another in the helpfulness category for having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. Upon receiving the grade, First Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Michael F. Uttaro was displeased that he was not told in advance that the request was for this report. “This was a significant report to compile, and personally spent many hours to prepare it, and I was never made aware of a deadline,” he said. “You advised me during our conversations regarding this request that there was no specific purpose to your request for this information and that you were just compiling this information for possible future purposes. I am proud of the work we do here for public safety in Nassau County and personally I am disappointed by what I consider a deceptive maneuver in the fact that the true reasons for your inquiry were never disclosed. I also feel that this ‘score’ of 83% does not truly reflect the hard work this staff puts out each and every day in our mission to protect those who live, work and play in the County of Nassau.”

Hardship Review Board: 89 or B+. Days: 34
This board determines whether property owners should be granted a year extension to pay back taxes. Five business days after we emailed our request to the board, we received a reply acknowledging it. The board then turned over some of the documents before the 20-day deadline, getting a point for its response time. The board also scored points for emailing its payroll list and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Health: 33 or F. Days: N/A
This department is responsible for promoting the health of county residents through disease-prevention programs, health-code enforcement and other initiatives. We mailed our request to the department and received a letter postmarked eight business days later in which the agency indicated that we should expect a response in 30 days, but that deadline passed without an update, so it got a half point for its response time. When we followed up, resulting in the loss of a half point, we didn’t receive a response. The lack of response constituted a denial, which we appealed, resulting in the loss of another point since the denial was neither in writing nor identified the FOIL appeals officer. The appeal was acknowledged, but the health department still didn’t provide any documents. We received the department’s payroll from the comptroller’s office for a point. The agency got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency maintained that it sent the requested documents, although they were not received, and blamed us for not following up again when they didn’t respond to the appeal of the denial. The agency issued a statement that read: “The requested materials were forwarded from the Nassau County Department of Health to the Long Island Press. Two additional pieces of correspondence were acknowledged as received by the Long Island Press. The Long Island Press was requested, in writing, to contact the county if items were not timely received. No further communication was received from the Long Island Press.”

Human Rights Commission: 22 or F. Days: N/A
This commission is tasked with investigating complaints of anti-discrimination law violations. We mailed our request to the commission but when we didn’t receive a response, we sent a follow-up email through the county’s FOIL website, which generated an automated response acknowledging the request. The agency didn’t reply within the 20-day deadline, resulting in the loss of a point for its response time, and the lack of a response constituted a denial, which we appealed. Although it didn’t provide a written denial, the commission got a half point for identifying its appeals officer, who acknowledged the appeal, but the commission still didn’t provide any documents. We received the commission’s payroll list from the comptroller’s office for a point. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Human Resources: 78 or C+. Days: 104
This department is in charge of employee performance reviews, professional training and promotions, among other duties. One business day after we mailed our request to the department, we received an email acknowledging it, but the 20-day deadline passed without an update, resulting in a half point for the agency’s response time. The lack of a response constituted a denial, which we appealed. It got a half point for identifying its FOIL appeals officer. After the appeal, the department scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Human Services: 78 or C+. Days: 84
This department coordinates with the county offices of the aging, disability services and other agencies as well as with local nonprofits. We mailed our request to the department but didn’t receive an email reply until after the 20-day deadline, so the agency got no points for its response time. The department scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Office of Housing and Community Development: 72 or C-. Days: 104
This agency administers federal grants designed to fund the construction of affordable housing, brownfield redevelopment and other programs. We mailed our request to the office but when we didn’t receive a response, we sent a follow-up email through the county’s FOIL website, which generated an automated response acknowledging it. The agency didn’t reply within the 20-day deadline, resulting in the loss of a point for its response time, and the lack of a response constituted a denial, which we appealed. Although it didn’t provide a written denial, it got a half point for identifying its appeals officer. After the appeal, the office scored points for emailing its payroll list and FOIL policy. It lost a point for not providing a subject matter listing. It also got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, Norman J. Gersman, the FOIL officer for the agency, said he would have responded immediately as is his practice for records requests, but was ordered not to. He did not say who gave the order.

Industrial Development Agency: 78 or C+. Days: 40
The IDA is a public benefit corporation designed to lure businesses to the county or encourage those already established to expand with tax incentives. Three business days after we emailed our request to the agency, a staffer called to acknowledge it and preview a letter doing the same that arrived in the mail the next day. The agency supplied some of the documents before the 20-day deadline, earning a point for its response time. It scored points for sending its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not emailing the documents as requested. It got a point for charging $2.50 for paper copies. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Information Technology: 50 or F. Days: 123
This department manages the county’s data processing systems, telecommunications networks and geographic information system. We mailed our request to the office but when we didn’t receive a response, we sent a follow-up email through the county’s FOIL website, which generated an automated response acknowledging it. The agency didn’t reply within the 20-day deadline, resulting in the loss of a point for its response time, and the lack of a response constituted a denial, which we appealed. Although it didn’t provide a written denial, it got a half point for identifying its appeals officer. After the appeal, it provided some documents we requested. It lost points for not providing a subject matter listing, not providing a written FOIL policy and for not emailing the documents as requested. The comptroller’s office provided its payroll for a point. The agency got a point in the helpfulness category for sending a free paper copy of its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain but it got no points for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, Ed Eisenstein, chief information officer for the department, called the email requesting comment on the grade an emotional “nastygram” and dismissed the grade. “The FOIL process is laid out clearly and we can help direct you to the right persons,” he said. “Once again, the IT department is being blamed for processes controlled by end users. There is no need for your rating and we are happy to assist if there is further info you need.”

Nassau Interim Finance Authority: 78 or C+. Days: 34
This agency oversees the county’s finances with authority over outside contracts, among other duties. The same day that we emailed our request to the agency, a staffer called to acknowledge it and asked why we filed it, resulting in the deduction of a point. Four business days later, we received an email asking us if we could narrow down the timeframe of the request for the FOIL and subpoena logs, which we did, although it turned out that the agency doesn’t maintain either file. The authority got a point for its response time when it provided some of the records within the 20-day deadline. The agency scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Office of Investigations: 72 or C-. Days: 98
This office is in charge of investigating allegations of waste, fraud and abuse by county agencies and contractors. Eleven business days after we mailed our request, the county attorney’s office replied and later requested a 20-day extension, but that deadline passed without us receiving an update, so the agency got no points for its response time. After we followed up for an update, resulting in the loss of a half point, the agency scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Office of Legislative Budget Review: 72 or C-. Days: 40
This agency is tasked with independently preparing financial impact statements for all proposals that come before the county legislature. Four business days after we emailed our request to the office, the agency replied to acknowledge the request and later met the second deadline, earning a point for its response time. The agency scored points for emailing its payroll list and subject matter listing. But we had to follow up once, resulting in the loss of a half point, because the payroll document didn’t include any salary details until we asked the second time. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy and got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. After being informed of the grade, the agency declined to comment, but in response to the last grading point, it added a link on its web page to direct the public where to file a FOIL request.

Office of Management and Budget: 83 or B. Days: 125
This agency is in charge of developing and monitoring the county’s operating budget, capital budget and multi-year financial plans. We mailed our request to the office but when we didn’t receive a response, we sent a follow-up email through the county’s FOIL website, which generated an automated response acknowledging it. As the response deadline approached, the office requested a 30-day extension. On that deadline, the office scored points for emailing its subject matter listing and FOIL policy. It got a half point for its response time. The comptroller’s office provided the payroll list for the agency. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Medical Examiner: 72 or C-. Days: 103
This agency investigates sudden, unexpected and violent deaths, performs autopsies and conducts forensic, toxicology and DNA tests. Six business days after we mailed our request to the office, we received a letter via certified mail acknowledging it, but the 20-day deadline lapsed without an update, so the agency got a half point for its response time. The office scored a point for providing its subject matter listing and FOIL policy. The comptroller’s office provided the payroll list for the agency for a point. The agency got a half point for emailing some documents and mailing others. It lost a point because we had to follow up twice to have the request fulfilled. It got a half point in the helpfulness category for explaining on its web page how to request copies of ME’s reports but not describing how to file general FOILs. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Office of Minority Affairs: 72 or C-. Days: 131
This office is designed to address the economic, health and education needs of minority communities. After we emailed our request to the office and called to follow up without a reply, resulting in no points for the agency’s response time, the lack of response was considered a denial, which we appealed for the loss of another point. After the appeal, the office scored points for emailing its subject matter listing and FOIL policy. The comptroller’s office provided the payroll list for the agency for a point. The office got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Nassau Downs OTB: 89 or B+. Days: 38
This public benefit corporation facilitates wagers on horse races for bettors who can’t make it to the tracks in person. We mailed our request to the agency and received a letter postmarked six days later acknowledging it. The agency then sent most of the requested documents within the 20-day deadline, earning a point for its response time. It scored points for sending its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not emailing the documents as requested. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, the agency declined to comment through a spokesman.

Parks Department: 94 or A. Days: 74
This department operates the county’s parks, golf courses, marinas and historic sites. Ten business days after we emailed our request to the department, a staffer called to acknowledge it. The agency provided some of the documents within the 20-day deadline and then requested a 30-day extension for others, which it met, earning a half point for its response time. The agency scored points for emailings its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It also got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Office of Physically Challenged: 83 or B. Days: 75
This office is tasked with coordinating services, developing programs and advocating for residents with disabilities. We mailed our request to the office and received a letter postmarked four days later acknowledging it, but the 20-day deadline passed without an update, resulting in a half point for the response time. The agency scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It lost a point because we had to follow up twice to fulfill the request. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Nassau County Police Department: 72 or C-. Days: 112
This department enforces laws and investigates crimes. When we didn’t get a response the first time we emailed our request to the department, we re-submitted it through the county’s FOIL website, which generated an automatic response acknowledging it, but since the 20-day deadline passed without the agency providing an update, it lost a point for its response time. It also lost a half point because we had to follow up once. The agency scored points for sending its subject matter listing and FOIL policy. The comptroller’s office provided the payroll list for the department for a point. It lost a point for not emailing the records as requested. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its subpoena log that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Probation Department: 72 or C-. Days: 116
This department is tasked with enforcing the court-ordered terms of probation as an alternative to incarceration, among other duties. The agency replied to acknowledge our request the same day that we emailed it, but the 20-day deadline lapsed before we received an update, so it only got a half point for its response time. After we followed up twice, resulting in the loss of a point, the agency scored points by emailing its subject matter listing and FOIL policy. The county comptroller provided the payroll list for the agency for a point. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Public Administrator: 44 or F. Days: 132
This office serves as the court-appointed fiduciary for the estates of deceased individuals for whom there is no executor of the estate. When we got no response after mailing our first request, we re-submitted it through the county’s FOIL website, but again got no reply after the automated email response. Since that lack of a response constituted a denial, we filed an appeal. The agency also lost a half point because the denial was not in writing but it did identify its FOIL appeals officer. After the appeal, the agency later scored points for sending its payroll list and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy and another for not emailing the records as requested. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment.

Department of Public Works: 60 or D-. Days: 98
This department constructs, maintains and operates county infrastructure, including roads, sewage systems, marinas and other facilities, among other duties. Sixteen business days after we emailed our request, the agency denied it on the grounds that the agency had none of the records. As a result, it got a half point for its response time and one point for issuing a written denial that identified the appeals officer. After we refiled the request, a staffer later called and said that he was compiling a subject matter listing, which the agency provided upon a follow-up request for one point. The department lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. The county comptroller provided the agency’s payroll list for a point. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Office of Purchasing: 72 or C-. Days: 66
This office is in charge of issuing requests for proposals, evaluating bids from vendors and awarding contracts, among other duties. The agency responded within the five-day deadline, but did not provide an update before the 20-day deadline, earning a half point for its response time. The agency scored points for providing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not emailing the documents. It got a point for charging us $3 for paper copies. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Real Estate, Planning and Development: 67 or D+. Days: 152
This department handles real estate planning, property acquisition and development plans, among other duties. When the agency didn’t respond to our original request, resulting in a loss of a point for its response time, we followed up by re-sending it through the county’s FOIL website, which generated an automated email acknowledging it. The staff then requested three extensions, but didn’t provide an update by the time the third deadline passed. It eventually scored points for emailing its subject matter listing and FOIL policy, but it lost a point because we had to follow up twice. The comptroller’s office provided the payroll list for the department for a point. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Sheriff’s Department: 78 or C+. Days: 54
The sheriff’s office is in charge of inmates at the county jail and enforcing court orders, among other duties. We received a letter posted marked 12 business days later acknowledging receipt, but the agency lost a point for its response time since the 20-day deadline lapsed before we got an update on the status of the request. It scored points for sending its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing, but lost a point for not emailing them as requested. It got a point for not overcharging us $14.75 for paper copies. It also got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Social Services: 67 or D+. Days: 89
This department coordinates financial assistance and support services for eligible residents, among other programs. Six business days after we mailed our request to the Department of Social Services, we received a letter acknowledging it but the 20-day deadline passed without an update, resulting in the agency getting a half point for its response time. After we followed up, resulting in the loss of another half point, the agency scored points by mailing its FOIL policy and subject matter listing at no cost. The comptroller’s office provided the payroll list for the department for a point. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. Upon receiving the grade, Commissioner John Imhof responded that:

“I very much regret that Mr. Bolger needed to subjectively assign an unfair and inexplicable grade of “D” to the Department of Social Services for his issues related to documents and time frames on returning requested FOILed documents… It is not unusual to at times seek further clarification of FOIL requests. As one of several dozen county departments and commissioners, none of us are independent entities that can instantly reply to FOIL requests without first seeking clarification, review and approval for reply from the county attorney’s office and its own FOIL officer. This procedure, rather than being obstructionist, seeks to insure that 1) we have fully complied with the FOIL request, or 2) that we need further clarification of the FOIL request or 3) that some or all of the information requested cannot be released for any number of possible reasons. For example, requests for confidential client records, including CPS, APS and Foster Care, which as commissioner I am statutorily compelled to protect. The fact is that we replied to Mr. Bolger‘s FOIL request on January 12, 2016 indicating which documents were and were not available per his request. Furthermore, our letter to Mr. Bolger also ended with the following: “You have thirty (30) days from receipt…to appeal to FOIL Appeals Officer, County of Nassau….” So while Mr. Bolger thereupon had the opportunity to further inquire and appeal our letter, DSS never heard from him—until now, nearly 14 months later when out of the blue he nonchalantly writes and tells us he’s decided to slam a D grade on DSS… In no way has DSS ever sought to avoid transparency. If anything, we would have welcomed further dialogue and review for discussion, if the opportunity had been presented to us. But that never happened. Mr. Bolger never sought an appeal, never communicated with us further and now, out of the blue 14 months later he announces DSS is getting an insulting, underserved and shameful public grade of D for an issue to which Mr. Bolger never even bothered to respond. Since assuming my responsibilities as Commissioner in 2006, Nassau County DSS has never been a department that seeks to avoid transparency and full disclosure. Exactly the opposite! We have affiliations and relationships with more than 100 community-based, educational, judicial and health care agencies, as well as the most active DSS Advisory Council in New York State consisting of representatives of over 60 agencies that meet monthly at DSS to review and critique all major DSS programs that serve the neediest of our residents. Eight years ago we created a new Department of Quality Management and Performance Review that analyzes all aspects of DSS operations to insure quality and effectiveness. And in my election two weeks ago as President of the New York Public Welfare Association, Nassau County is now poised to even further engage with State legislative and agency heads to promote enhanced funding, services and legislation that will benefits counties statewide, including Nassau and Suffolk. I called Mr. Bolger and challenged him as to how he could possibly engage in such poor reporting. While he tried to defend that his assigning a D was really intended for a specific area of DSS business, I was frankly aghast at his naiveté. I reminded him that perception is reality in our day of instant news analysis. Assigning a grade of D to any component of an agency certainly leaves the impression over time that the entire agency received a poor grade of D. That’s what will be remembered rather than readers being able to discern differences and subtleties. Nassau County DSS, with an annual budget of $486 million, serves nearly 300,000 Nassau County residents annually. DSS tries to find permanent housing for Nassau’s rapidly increasing homeless population; DSS provides 24/7 child and adult protective services; DSS recovers over $100 million annually in delinquent child support payments; and DSS enables thousands of children to attend day care so their parents can sustain gainful employment. DSS aggressively manages waste, fraud and abuse, saving our taxpayers nearly $80 million in cost avoidance over the past 10 years. DSS has received numerous grants and awards to further enable children and adults improved access to services, and the New York Office of Children and Family Services has in many instances referred to Nassau DSS as a model program which it recommends to other county departments for emulation. Our Language Access Plan insures that all multicultural applicants will find ease in applying for services in their own language, which is clearly spelled out on our website. And speaking of websites, contrary to Mr. Bolger’s assertion, if you go to the DSS website and write FOIL in the Search Engine, you will be directed to the process for formally filing a FOIL request to one or many of the Nassau County Departments listed, including DSS. We just received an outstanding report from the State University of New York’s Department of Social Work highlighting Nassau DSS’s efforts that have resulted in reducing the incidence of racial disparity in the assignment of minority children to foster care. This is just one of many areas that Nassau DSS continues to be lauded by the State agencies to which we are accountable. DSS is a mosaic of multiple programs and services that always invites and welcomes comments, scrutiny, analysis and reviews, whether from our citizenry, our public servants or the press. What we don’t welcome or appreciate is a slanted hatchet job that is inexcusable when by neglectful omission and follow through it fails to report the entire story. It leaves such a feeling of frustration when one reporter can write an article that purports to present a fair analysis and summary of an investigate [sic] issue, when in fact this ‘news’ article is replete with misstatements and falsehoods that disparage the incredible work performed daily by the 900 dedicated and professional employees of the Nassau County Department of Social Services. And finally, when did the Long Island Press and the Press Club become statistical analysts developing and validating objective grading systems designed to specifically capture the essence of entities or procedures within public health and human services agencies? Please, can you identify these analysts and forward a copy of their grading charts? In conclusion, we give Mr. Bolger a ‘D’ for his ‘reporting,’ which we consider a most generous grade given the egregious errors of his article.”

Taxi and Limousine Commission: 89 or B+. Days: 37
This newly created commission regulates taxicab and limousine companies. A day after we emailed our request, the commission scored points by replying with its payroll and FOIL policy, but lost a half point because we had to follow up for the salary amounts and subject matter listing that were omitted in the initial reply. It also lost a half point for its response time since the rest of the documents weren’t provided until after the 20-day deadline. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Treasurer’s Office: 67 or D+. Days: 69
The treasurer is in charge of managing the county’s funds, issuing its debt and investing its surplus funds, among other duties. Five business days after we emailed our request to the Treasurer’s Office, we received a response acknowledging it, but the 20-day deadline lapsed before we got an update, resulting in the agency getting a half point for its response time. The office then scored points for emailing its payroll list, but lost points for not providing a subject matter listing or written FOIL policy. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its log of FOIL requests that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Nassau University Medical Center: 11 or F. Days: N/A
This public benefit corporation operates the county’s medical center in East Meadow, its network of health centers and the A. Holly Patterson Nursing Extended Care Facility in Uniondale. Four business days after we emailed our request, we received a reply acknowledging it, but the 20-day deadline lapsed without an update, resulting in a half point for its response time. The agency’s outside counsel, under the impression that the hospital failed to respond, later replied to acknowledge the request and requested an extension. But when we had to follow up for an update, resulting in the loss of a half point, we received no response, which constituted a denial that we appealed, but since it didn’t acknowledge our appeal, it was deducted a point. It lost points for not providing its FOIL policy or subject matter listing. The comptroller’s office provided NUMC’s payroll list for a point. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not comment on its grade.

Veterans Services Agency: 56 or F. Days: 74
This agency is tasked with ensuring veterans receive services to which they are entitled. Two business days after we emailed our request, we received a reply acknowledging it, but the 20-day deadline lapsed without an update, resulting in a half point for the agency’s response time. After we followed up, resulting in the loss of a half point, an agency staffer said it doesn’t have a written FOIL policy, resulting in the loss of a point. The agency also lost a point for not providing its subject matter listing. The comptroller provided the payroll list for the agency for a point. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Youth Board: 89 or B+. Days: 53
This board is tasked with partnering with nonprofits, schools and businesses to create opportunities for young people. Four business days after we emailed our request, the board wrote back to acknowledge it, responded with some of the documents within the 20-day deadline and then fulfilled the rest of the request within the 14-day extension it requested, earning a point for its response time. The agency scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

SUFFOLK COUNTY GOVERNMENT: 78 or C+

The county government for the eastern half of Long Island often scored better than Nassau, but it was sometimes difficult to get responses from its departments and agencies. For example, when a Suffolk agency failed to respond to our requests, which was considered a denial, the county argued that that we didn’t file the appeal within 30 days of their failure to respond. They are technically correct under the law. But when we appealed a denial for non-responsiveness by any other municipality or agency, they did not deny our appeals for missing that deadline. Suffolk did not lose points for taking that position since it is permissible under the law. In those cases, we simply refiled our requests after the appeals were denied. Overall, Suffolk received a grade of a C. In response to its grade, the county issued a statement that said: “Many Suffolk County departments received high grades in response to their FOIL requests, however there is room for improvement in some departments and we have already taken action to develop best practices in response to FOIL requests and will create a performance measurement tool for departments to track responsiveness to FOIL requests.”

Office for the Aging: 83 or B. Days: 46
This agency administers federal, state and county programs for residents 60 and over. We received a letter of acknowledgment postmarked seven business days after we emailed our request and then received a letter indicating which records would be made available within the 20-day deadline. The agency got a point for its response time. It got a half point because some of its records were paper and others were emailed. It got a point for sending its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the office. The agency got no points in the helpfulness category since it had no directions on its website on how to FOIL the office. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

County Attorney: 78 or C+. Days: 159
This agency is responsible for defending the county in lawsuits, providing legal advice to county officials and handling appeals of FOIL request denials, among other duties. Since the agency missed both deadlines by which it’s supposed to acknowledge and reply to FOIL requests, it got no points for its response time. The agency scored points for emailing its payroll list and FOIL policy. In the same email, it stated that the rest of the documentation would be received by Christmas Eve, but that date passed without an update. When we followed up, resulting in the loss of a half point, we didn’t hear back. The lack of a response constituted a denial, which we appealed, resulting in the loss of a half point because the denial wasn’t in writing, but it did identify its FOIL appeals officer. The agency then emailed its subject matter listing for a point. The agency got a point in the helpfulness category since it provided the FOIL policy for the rest of the county and the payroll list for most of the county departments but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. Upon receiving its grade, Phyllis Seidman, bureau chief of the Suffolk County Department of Law, said “We appreciated your observation about the absence of information for a FOIL appeal process. While we generally inform the requestor directly of the FOIL appeals process in an acknowledgment or follow-up letter, in this case, the replies from this office were sent to you in the body of an email. The County’s standard appeal language was inadvertently omitted from the email. In the future, we will check that the appeal process language is included regardless of the form of the response. Electronic posting of instructions on the website is a good suggestion and we will ask the Information Technology Department about getting it done. Please note that our office handled 77 FOIL matters in 2016, 37 of which were referred to other agencies, but which may have necessitated our assistance. We allocate available resources to handle requests as promptly and completely as possible. We strive for complete and timely responses, and if that did not happen in your case, we regret it and will focus our efforts to address this in future requests.”

Department of Civil Service: 94 or A. Days: 42
This department oversees personnel actions taken by the county and 241 agencies within its jurisdiction. Five business days after we emailed our request to the agency, we received a letter in the mail acknowledging it and informing us that we should expect a response by Dec. 2. That reply came after the 20-day deadline passed, resulting in the loss of a half point for that agency’s response time. The agency scored points for emailing its subject matter listing. It also got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain and got no points for having no directions on its website on how to FOIL the office. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the department. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

County Clerk: 100 or A+. Days: 21
This agency is responsible for storing and maintaining copies of official county records. A staffer initially replied to our request by saying they don’t accept FOIL requests. But, staffers did then acknowledge the request and provide some of the documents within the deadlines, so it got a point for its response time. It scored points for emailing its subject matter listing and FOIL policy. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list for the agency for a point. In the helpfulness category it got a point for its speedy response and no points for not having information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Clerk of the Legislature: 100 or A+. Days: 31
This clerk is tasked with maintaining records and transcripts of legislative meetings. Five business days after we emailed our request, we received a letter of acknowledgment via certified mail. After the agency required that we fill out a FOIL form, the clerk scored points for emailing the payroll list for its office and the legislature as well as its subject matter listing and FOIL policy. Even though we had to resend the request, the clerk provided its documentation within the deadline, earning a point for its response time. The clerk also got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply. Although the office didn’t have directions on its website on how to FOIL the office, it does have an online searchable database for legislative records. Clerk of the Legislature Jason Richberg said that he and others within the office are pleased with the grade. “I am very proud of our staff who do the people’s work every day without  getting recognized for the small miracles they make happen all of the time. Our staff works tirelessly to make sure the public has access to information in a timely and professional fashion.”

County Comptroller: 89 or B+. Days: 46
The comptroller is responsible for auditing county agencies, processing payroll and issuing annual financial statements, among other duties. Five business days after we emailed our request to the agency, we received a reply acknowledging it, but the 20-day deadline passed without an update, so the comptroller got a half point for its response time. The agency scored points for emailing its subject matter listing, but lost a half point because we had to follow up once when a staffer sent the wrong document in its place. In the helpfulness category it got a point for providing its log of FOIL requests, which it’s not required to maintain, and got no points because the office didn’t have information on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the County Comptroller. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Suffolk County Community College: 83 or B. Days: 77
With 27,000 students on three campuses, SCCC is the largest community college in New York State. When we first emailed our request, we did not hear back by either deadline, resulting in the loss of a point for its response time. But when we followed up, resulting in the loss of a half point, the college scored points by emailing us its payroll list, subject matter listing and FOIL policy. It also got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its FOIL log and subpoena log, neither of which it’s required to maintain, and for having directions on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The college did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Criminal Justice Coordinating Council: 11 or F. Days: N/A
This council is designed to foster cooperation and improve decision-making across agencies within the county’s criminal justice system. We sent our request to the office, but got no reply. When we filed an appeal based on the lack of response being considered a denial, our appeal was denied on the grounds that we didn’t file it within 30 days of their failure to respond. Then, after we refiled the request and the office again didn’t respond, we filed another appeal, this time within the deadline, but the appeal was denied a second time. It lost a point because the denial was not in writing and didn’t identify its appeals officer. The county attorney provided the FOIL policy for the council for a point and the council’s payroll list for another point. The council did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

District Attorney: 78 or C+. Days: 77
This agency prosecutes criminal defendants, conducts investigations and seeks justice for crime victims. We received a letter of acknowledgement postmarked three business days after we emailed our request and got a second letter well after the 20-day deadline, resulting in a half point for this agency’s response time. The agency scored points by sending its subject matter listing, a paper copy of which cost $2.05. It got no points in the helpfulness category since it had no directions on its website on how to file a FOIL request. It got a half point because some of the documents were emailed. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the district attorney. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Economic Development and Planning: 78 or C+. Days: 42
This agency is tasked with encouraging businesses to move to the county and existing businesses to expand. Three business days after we emailed our request, we received a reply, but the 20-day deadline lapsed before we received an update, resulting in the agency getting a half point for its response time. The agency scored points for sending us free paper copies of its subject matter listing. It got no points in the helpfulness category since it had no directions on its website on how to file a FOIL request. It got a half point because some of the documents were emailed. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the department. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Board of Elections: 89 or B+. Days: 13
This board is responsible for the operation of polling places, counting ballots and certifying winners of elections. We received a letter postmarked four business days after we emailed our request and the envelope contained documents fulfilling our request. The agency scored points for sending free paper copies of its payroll list, subject matter listing and FOIL policy. It lost a point for not emailing the documents. In the helpfulness category it got a point for its speedy reply and got no points since it had no directions on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Board of Ethics: 78 or C+. Days: 18
This board is responsible for enforcing ethics codes, ensuring employees required to file financial disclosure forms do so and issues advisory opinions when questions of conflicts of interest arise, among other duties. The agency scored points for providing its payroll list, subject matter listing and FOIL policy, paper copies of which cost $4, within the deadlines. It lost a point for not emailing the records. In the helpfulness category, it got a point for having directions on its website on how to file a FOIL request and was deducted a point for requiring us pick up the documents in person as well as requiring we provide identification when we did so. Upon receiving their grade, the board issued a statement through their attorney, John Gross: “At the time of this request, the Suffolk County Board of Ethics had not yet authorized electronic dissemination of responses to FOIL requests. As I am sure you can appreciate, the board deals with much personally identifiable confidential information which requires careful review before release and the use of secure distribution methods. The board has subsequently to your request established protocol and procedures for emailing responses to FOIL requests.”

County Executive: 50 or F. Days: 342
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, as the head of the county’s executive branch, shapes Suffolk’s budget and legislative agenda. One business day after we emailed our request, the county executive’s spokeswoman called to acknowledge it and clarify which documents were being sought. After the 20-day deadline passed, the county attorney’s office later provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the county executive, but the rest of the request went unfulfilled despite follow-up requests. When the last follow-up went unacknowledged, we were prepared to consider it a denial and file an appeal, but since the county attorney’s office had already indicated in our appeals of other Suffolk agency FOIL denials that it would require us to file our appeal within 30 days of the failure to respond, we instead resubmitted the request for the remaining documents to restart the clock. The county executive’s office again acknowledged the request within the five-day deadline but did not provide an update within the 20-day deadline, resulting in a half point for its response time. The lack of response constituted a denial, which we appealed, resulting in the loss of another point since the denial was neither in writing nor identified the appeals officer. The office lost a point for not providing its subject matter listing. A point was deducted because we had to follow up nine times in an attempt to have our request fulfilled. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the county executive’s office. The office got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain and got no points for not having information on how to file a FOIL request on its web page. The county executive’s office issued a statement in response to its grade. “The Executive’s office provided the majority of required documents within the designated time frame for the FOIL request,” the statement read. “In addition, while we were not required to provide a list of FOIL requests received by the Executive’s office, the Executive’s office wanted to be as thorough as possible in response to the  FOIL.  Therefore, we had to review over 45,000 emails to ascertain all FOIL requests received.  That process took an inordinate amount of time but the list was provided as part of the comprehensive documents requested.”

Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services: 100 or A+. Days: 36
This agency includes the county fire marshal’s office, the 911 facility that handles fire and EMS calls, the firefighter academy, the fire extinguisher licensing board and the Office of Emergency Management, which coordinates responses to natural and manmade disasters. One business day after we emailed our request, we received a reply acknowledging it and one week later we received a response, earning the agency a point for its response time. The agency scored points for emailing its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the department. In the helpfulness category it got a point for its speedy reply and got no points for not having directions on its web page on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Health Services: 72 or C-. Days: 382
This department is responsible for disease-prevention programs, health-code enforcement and other initiatives. We received a letter of acknowledgement dated five business days after we emailed our request, but only some of the request was fulfilled without an update on the remaining items by the 20-day deadline, resulting in a half point for the agency’s response time. The agency got a point for emailing its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the department. Because we had to follow up six times to have the request fulfilled, the agency lost a point. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having a link to a FOIL application on its web page as well as providing a copy of its log of FOIL requests and log of subpoenas, neither of which it’s required to maintain. The agency issued a statement in response to its grade: “The Suffolk County Health Department of Health Services (SCDHS) is bound by HIPAA in addition to FOIL and must safeguard the health information and the privacy of the residents we serve. SCDHS processed over 7,400 FOILs in 2015 and 2016, averaging more than 300/month. Upon receipt of each request for records, a letter is sent out acknowledging receipt, as was done in response to this request. Staff resources to devote to this one FOIL request did not allow the department to complete the request within 20 days. Over 40 hours of staff time was needed to complete the request for a log of FOIL records. The process of ensuring that the records of over 34,000 FOILS did not contain health information or personal information of Suffolk County residents, as per HIPAA regulations, was a time-consuming task. Upon completion, each item of record was delivered via email as requested.”

Human Rights Commission: 83 or B. Days: 52
This commission is tasked with investigating complaints of anti-discrimination law violations. We received a letter of acknowledgement postmarked seven business days after we emailed our request and the documents arrived in an envelope postmarked after the 20-day deadline, resulting in the loss of a point for response time. The agency scored points for sending free paper copies of its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the commission. It got a half point because some of the documents were emailed. It got no points in the helpfulness category because it didn’t have information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Industrial Development Agency: 83 or B. Days: 18
The IDA a public benefit corporation designed to lure businesses to the county or encourage existing companies to expand tax incentives. Four business days after we filed our request, an agency staffer replied to acknowledge it and ask that we re-submit it on a FOIL form, which we did before receiving a response ahead of the 20-day deadline, earning a point for the agency’s response time. The agency scored points for sending free paper copies of its payroll list. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing and lost another point for not emailing its records. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply and no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. It got a half point because some of the documents were emailed. The county attorney’s office provided the FOIL policy for the agency. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Information Technology: 100 or A+. Days: 40
The IT department manages the county’s emerging technologies used in daily operations. The department faxed a letter of acknowledgment and responded to our request within the deadlines, earning a point for its response time. It scored points for emailing its subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for providing a FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the department. The department does not have a website. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs: 78 or C+. Days: 94
This department enforces licensing requirements, investigates consumer complaints and has other duties. One business day after we emailed our request, we received a phone call acknowledging it followed by a letter postmarked four business days later doing the same. But since the department didn’t provide an update by the 20-day deadline and the only documents we received by then were the department’s payroll list and FOIL policy provided by the county attorney’s office, the agency got a half point for its response time. It scored points when it eventually emailed its subject matter listing. It also got a point in the helpfulness category when it provided its log of FOIL requests and subpoena log, neither of which it’s required to maintain, and for having a link to a FOIL form on its website. It lost a half point for emailing some documents but mailing paper copies of others and lost a point when we had to follow up twice to get the documents. Upon receiving its grade, Kathleen Rivers, the FOIL officer for the department, acknowledged the response could have been quicker but questioned the grading process: “I am of the opinion that an overall grade should not be determined based on one FOI request. I process over 250 FOI requests per year. The overwhelming majority of these requests is directly related to licensing, complaint and violation files and the documents contained therein which are held in our immediate possession. The particular FOI request that you submitted listed five very broad items, some not particular to the day to day operations of consumer affairs. This same FOI request was submitted to several other county agencies and it was necessary that another department respond to some of the items requested. We received your FOI request on October 30, 2015, and submitted a timely response to you that indicated “December 2, 2015 is the approximate date” that you will receive a response. After communicating back and forth via email with me, you received everything requested by February 2, 2016. While I acknowledge that all of the items requested were not received timely, there was continuous communication to clarify your inquiry and make sure that the request was completely fulfilled.”

Office of Legislative Budget Review: 83 or B. Days: 31
This agency is tasked with independently preparing financial impact statements for all proposals that come before the county legislature. The office met both deadlines for a point. It scored points for emailing its subject matter listing and FOIL policy. It lost a half point because we had to follow up once for items that were not acknowledged in its initial reply. The legislative clerk’s office provided the payroll list for the office. It got no points in the helpfulness category for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. Robert Lipp, the director of the budget review office, said his office rarely handles FOIL requests. “All FOIL requests in the Legislature go through the clerk of the Legislature,” he said. “Occasionally the clerk comes to us for assistance in filling those request. Often the clerk does not require our assistance and in those cases we would have no reason to be involved at all. As far as any missing items that you are referring to, that relates to interpreting what is being asked for. As such, it is not surprising that it may take a couple of iterations to get all that is being asked for. We work hard in being as helpful as possible with the public and fill requests ASAP. That being said, the workload of the Budget Review Office is considerable and priorities make it impossible to drop everything just to fill out FOIL requests. In fact, if requested information is readily available, we often take calls from the press and avoid having them go through the FOIL process at all. I’m not seeing how we could be any more accommodating than we already are.”

Medical Examiner: 78 or C+. Days: 48
This office investigates sudden, unexpected and violent deaths, performs autopsies and has three divisions: the forensic, toxicology and crime lab sections. The office missed both deadlines, so it got no points for its response time. It scored points for mailing free paper copies of its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the agency. It got a half point because some of the documents were emailed and others were mailed. It got a half point in the helpfulness category for explaining on its website how to request copies of ME’s reports but not describing how to file general FOILs. The agency did not comment on its grade.

Office of Minority Affairs: 0 or F. Days: N/A
This office is designed to address the economic, health and education needs of minority communities through advisory boards and business groups that fall under its purview. Four times we sent our request to the office, but got no reply. We filed an appeal based on the lack of response being considered a denial, resulting in the loss of a point because the denial was neither in writing nor identified the appeals officer. Our appeal was denied on the grounds that we didn’t file it within 30 days of their failure to respond. Then, after we refiled the request, there was no response and we again filed an appeal, this time within the deadline, and the appeal was denied a second time. The county attorney provided the FOIL policy for the office for a point. The agency lost points for not providing its payroll list or subject matter listing. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.: 94 or A. Days: 31
This public benefit corporation facilitates wagers on horse races for bettors who can’t make it to the tracks. Four business days after we emailed our request, the attorney for OTB called to acknowledge the request and preview a letter that followed shortly thereafter. The documents arrived before the 20-day deadline, earning a point for response time. The agency scored points for sending paper copies of its payroll list and a digital copy of its subject matter listing. It got a half point because some of the records were not emailed. The county attorney provided the FOIL policy for the office. In the helpfulness category it got a point for its speedy reply and got no points for not having any information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The agency declined to comment on their grade.

Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation: 83 or B. Days: 39
This department operates parks, golf courses, marinas and historic sites. One business day after we emailed our request, we received a reply acknowledging it, but the 20-day deadline passed without an update, resulting in a half point for response time. The agency scored points for emailing its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the department. The agency got no points in the helpfulness category because its website had no information on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Office for People With Disabilities: 78 or C+. Days: 61
This office is tasked with coordinating services, developing programs and advocating for residents with disabilities. The agency acknowledged the request within the five-day deadline but the 20-day deadline passed without an update, resulting in a half point for response time. The agency scored points for sending free paper copies of its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the department. It got a half point because some documents were emailed. The agency got no points in the helpfulness category since its website had no information on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Suffolk County Police Department: 94 or A. Days: 36
The department enforces laws and investigates crimes. Shortly after we emailed our request, a spokeswoman called to acknowledge the request and granted it before the 20-day deadline, earning a point for response time. It scored points for sending a free paper copy of its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the department. It got a half point because some documents were emailed and others were paper. The agency got a point in the helpfulness category because its website had a link to a FOIL request form. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Probation Department: 78 or C+. Days: 38
This department is tasked with enforcing the court-ordered terms of probation. The agency acknowledged the request within the five-day deadline but the 20-day deadline passed without an update, resulting in a half point for response time. It scored points for sending a free paper copy of its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the department. It got a half point because some documents were emailed and others were paper. The agency got no points in the helpfulness category because its website had no information on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Public Administrator: 56 or F. Days: 134
This office serves as the court-appointed fiduciary for deceased individuals whose estates have no executor. The agency missed both deadlines, earning no points for response time. Its lack of response to our initial request constituted a denial, which was appealed. The appeal cost a point due to the lack of a written denial identifying the FOIL appeals officer. The county attorney denied our appeal, so we refiled the request. The second time, the agency scored points by sending free copies of its subject matter listing and FOIL policy. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list for the agency. It got a half point because some of the documents were emailed and others were not. It got no points in the helpfulness category because its website had no information on how to FOIL the agency. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Public Works: 100 or A+. Days 28
This department constructs and maintains roads, sewage systems, marinas and other facilities, among other duties. The agency replied within both deadlines, earning a point for its response time. It scored points for emailing its FOIL policy and subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list for the department. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having a link to a FOIL request application form on its website. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Real Property Tax Service Agency: 78 or C+. Days: 30
This agency maintains the county’s official tax map as well as providing information, training and support services to local tax assessors. We emailed our request to the agency, which replied within the deadlines, earning a point for response time. The agency lost a point for not having a subject matter listing. The county attorney provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the agency. It got no points in the helpfulness category because the agency had no information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. Penny Wells LaValle, director of the agency, said that the agency “responded appropriately with a description that the ‘agency prepares and maintains the tax map parcels for Suffolk County.’” She added: “FOI requests are available in the office and the Agency’s email is on the web site if a form is requested, it is emailed or mailed.”

County Sheriff: 94 or A. Days: 35
The sheriff’s office is in charge of inmates at the jail and enforcing court orders, among other duties. The agency scored points for mailing free copies of its subject matter listing within the five-day deadline. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll and FOIL policy on behalf of the sheriff. It got a half point because some documents were mailed and others were emailed. The agency got a point the in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply but got no points because its website had no information on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Department of Social Services: 100 or A+. Days: 38
This department coordinates financial assistance and support services to eligible residents. The department met both deadlines, earning a point for response time. It scored points for emailing its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the department. The agency got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its subpoena log and log of FOIL requests, neither of which it’s required to maintain, but got no points since it had no information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. “It is always great to get feedback from the local press concerning our efforts in serving the public,” an agency representative said in response to the grade.

Soil and Water Conservation District: 67 or D+. Days: 78
This agency helps farmers, property owners and municipalities devise plans to conserve natural resources, mitigate erosion and protect the environment, among other duties. Minutes after we filed our request, a staff member called and asked what we would use the information for, resulting in a deduction of a point in the helpfulness category. A staffer later sent us a FOIL request form and asked that we fill it out and resubmit our request, which we did. The agency provided a letter acknowledging our request within the five-day deadline and the county attorney’s office provided the district’s payroll list and FOIL policy by the 20-day deadline, but the agency itself didn’t respond with an update on the rest of the documents by that deadline, resulting in a half point for response time. The agency lost a half point when we had to follow up for the rest of the documents, including the subject matter listing, which the agency scored points for emailing. The agency also got no points in the helpfulness category because its website has no information on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Suffolk County Transit: 67 or D+. Days: 157 
This agency, known as SCAT, operates the county’s public bus and paratransit system. When the agency missed both response deadlines the first time, we refiled our request, resulting in no points for response time. We filed an appeal, which resulted in the loss of a point because the denial was not in writing and didn’t identify a FOIL appeals officer. The county attorney’s office denied our appeal because we didn’t file it within 30 days of SCAT’s failure to respond, so we re-submited the request. The second time, we received a letter acknowledging our request and SCAT eventually scored points for sending free paper copies of its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list on behalf of SCAT. It got a half point because some of the documents were emailed and others weren’t. The department got a point in the helpfulness category for providing a copy of its log of FOIL requests, which it’s not required to maintain, but got no points because its website had no information on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Veterans Services Agency: 78 or C+. Days: 68
This agency is tasked with ensuring veterans receive services to which they are entitled. Four business days after we emailed our request, we received a letter acknowledging it, but the 20-day deadline passed without an update, resulting in a half point for response time. When we followed up, resulting in the loss of a half point, the agency scored points by emailing us its subject matter listing. The county attorney’s office provided the payroll list and FOIL policy for the agency. In the helpfulness category, the agency got no points because its website had no information on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Suffolk County Water Authority: 56 or F. Days: 114
This public benefit corporation supplies groundwater to 1.2 million residents. The authority missed both deadlines, earning no points for response time. After we followed up three times, resulting in the deduction of a point, the agency eventually scored points for emailing its payroll list and subject matter listing. The county attorney provided the FOIL policy for the authority. In the helpfulness category, the agency got no points because its website had no information on how to file a FOIL request. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

TOWNS: 85 or B

These municipalities provided an interesting contrast in responsiveness. The Town of Riverhead, for example, fully responded within two days of us filing our requests with all the documents in an email at no charge. Riverhead was one of the fastest responses of any agency from which we requested documents. But Oyster Bay and Islip do not keep minutes of their board meetings, so when we requested the documents, we had to wait for court reporters who record the meetings to provide written transcripts. The hundreds of pages of documents drove the cost of these requests to more than $200 each, well above the nominal price we had to pay for records from other agencies that charged us for documents. Out of all the towns, Islip wound up taking the longest to turn over documents. We didn’t receive the last items requested until six months after the initial request was made. Overall, the 13 towns on LI earned a cumulative grade of B.

Babylon: 65 or D. Days: 118
In the southwest corner of Suffolk, more than 200,000 residents live in this biblically named town, which is not to be confused with the smaller Village of Babylon that falls within town borders. We mailed our request in two parts to the town clerk. The town mailed a letter acknowledging our request for the minutes within three business days and mailed the paper copies at no charge eight business days later. But the 20-day deadline passed without the town acknowledging the other request for the rest of the documents, resulting in a half point for response time. We called to follow up, but only after emailing it through the town’s public information officer were we able to get it to the clerk, who we were told never received our emails or initial mailed letter. Another 20 business days passed after the clerk verbally acknowledged receiving the first request and we did not receive the documents, a denial or a request for an extension. Since we had to follow up twice, the town lost a point. The town scored points for sending its payroll list and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy and another for not emailing the documents. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Brookhaven: 90 or A-. Days: 87
The only one of the 10 towns in Suffolk that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound, the Town of Brookhaven is home to nearly a half million residents. We emailed our request in two parts to the town clerk. The clerk didn’t respond to our request for the board meeting minutes and agendas until we followed up after the five-day deadline lapsed, but replied to acknowledge the request for the other documents in two days. As a result, the town got a half point for its response time and lost another a half point because we had to follow up once. For the payroll and other records, the town requested a three-month extension. The town scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy, subject matter listing and board meeting minutes within that deadline. It got points in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas, FOIL log and subpoena log that it’s not required to maintain as well as for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

East Hampton: 80 or B-. Days: 77
Located on the eastern half of the South Fork, stretching from the hamlets of Wainscott to Montauk, the Town of East Hampton is home to more than 21,000 residents and shouldn’t be confused with the village of the same name that falls within its borders. We emailed our request in two parts to the town clerk. The clerk replied with the minutes and agendas the same day as we requested those items. It acknowledged the other request for the rest of the documents one day after it was made, but the 20-day deadline passed before we heard an update. For that, the town got a half point for response time and lost a half point since we had to follow up once. The town scored points for emailing its payroll list and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. The town got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Hempstead: 85 or B. Days: 70 
Abutting the New York City line in the southwestern third of Nassau County is the Town of Hempstead, which is billed as the most populous town in the nation with more than 759,000 residents and is not to be confused with the Village of Hempstead that falls within its borders. We emailed our request in two parts to the town clerk. The town clerk replied to acknowledge both within the five-day deadline. The town mailed paper and CD copies of the board meeting minutes within the 20-day deadline, but the deadline passed before the town provided an update on the request for the other documents, resulting in a half point for response time. It lost another half point when we had to follow up. The town scored points for emailing its payroll list and subject matter listing. It lost a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the town code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain but got no points because its website had no information on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Huntington: 100 or A+. Days: 108
The northwesternmost of the 10 towns in Suffolk County is the Town of Huntington, which is home to more than 203,000 residents.Huntington has the most proactive yet confusing FOIL process out of the 13 towns on LI. Three business days after we emailed our request to the town clerk, the clerk wrote back acknowledging the request and informing us that we need to contact the 26 other FOIL officers—staffers designated to process records requests—for each individual town department to acquire some of the documents, which we did. The town spokesman then responded and consolidated the requests back into one. The town got points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing as well as providing its board meeting minutes and agendas. Since the town requested an extension to the 20-day deadline, it got a point for it’s response time. It got a point in the helpfulness category for emailing its FOIL log and subpoena log that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Islip: 75 or C. Days: 164
Located in the geographical midsection of LI, the Town of Islip is home to more than 335,000 residents. Islip had the highest bill for any FOIL request on Long Island because its board meeting minutes were only available in the form of hundreds of pages of transcripts. Although the $221 bill was the biggest, because the town charged the legally allowed 25 cents per page, it wasn’t considered excessive. We emailed our request in two parts to the town clerk: One for the board meeting minutes and agendas, the other for the rest of the documents. The clerk acknowledged receiving one request within the five-day deadline, but didn’t acknowledge the other request for the minutes until after the 20-day deadline passed when we followed up to resubmit the first request that was partially denied. That lag resulted in the loss of a half point for the town’s response time and another half point deduction since we had to follow up. The town then billed us for paper copies of its board meetings because the documents are only available in the form of transcripts and billed us for paper copies of its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing in the first request. It lost a point for not emailing any of the documents. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

North Hempstead: 75 or C. Days: 153
Situated in the northwestern third of Nassau County, the Town of North Hempstead is home to more than 226,000 residents. We sent our request in two parts to the town clerk. The town responded to one within five business days and the other in seven business days, but the 20-day deadline passed without updates on both, resulting in a half point for response time. By the time we received a full answer, we had to follow up four times, resulting in the deduction of a point. The town scored points for emailing its payroll list, board meeting minutes and subject matter listing. It also scored points in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log and subpoena log that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, town spokeswoman Carole Trottere noted that the town turned over more than 10,000 pages of digitized documents in response to our request and has since modernized its website to make accessing government records easier for the public. “North Hempstead and Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth recently added a feature from technology provider OpenGov to the Northhempstead.com website that will provide a comprehensive report of all payments made by the Town, by year and vendor,” the town said. “This additional feature, called OpenGov Open Checkbook™, will continue to strengthen North Hempstead’s commitment to openness and transparency in government. The Town launched its modernized website in 2015, which included its first interactive aggregate financial and budget reports powered by OpenGov. With OpenGov, the public can easily analyze, share and compare detailed town budget data in a user-friendly format. The addition of the OpenGov Open Checkbook to the town’s website makes it even simpler for residents to see checkbook-level spending data, and to follow how each and every one of their tax dollars is spent by their local government. Checkbook data for the years of 2014, 2015 and 2016, up to January 6, 2017, will be available. Previously this kind of information was only available by requesting it under the Freedom of Information Act, but will now be easily available and searchable to anyone through the Town’s website.”

Oyster Bay: 85 or B. Days: 72
The Town of Oyster Bay, the easternmost of the three towns in Nassau County, is the only one besides Brookhaven to stretch from the Long Island Sound to the Atlantic Ocean and has more than 293,000 residents. The Town of Oyster Bay had the second highest bill for any FOIL request on Long Island because its board meeting minutes were only available in the form of hundreds of pages of transcripts. Although the bill was big, since it charged the legally allowed 25 cents per page, it wasn’t considered excessive. We sent our request in two parts to the town clerk. The town acknowledged one seven days after the request and the other on the same day as that request, so it lost a half point for its response time. The town later requested an extension. But before then, we partially resubmitted our request to clarify the time frame for the FOIL and subpoena logs. The town scored points for sending its payroll list, FOIL policy, subject matter listing and board meeting agendas and minutes. It lost a point for not emailing any of the documents. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not comment on its grade.

Riverhead: 100 or A+. Days: 2
The gateway to the North Fork, the Town of Riverhead is home to more than 33,000 residents. It was  the quickest to respond out of the 13 towns on Long Island. Riverhead was the quickest to respond of the 13 towns. The town clerk fully compiled with our request for the board meeting minutes and agendas on the same day and took just two days to reply to a separate request for the rest of the documents. The town scored points for its response time as well as emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy, subject matter listing, board meeting minutes and agendas. It also got points in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply and sending its FOIL log and subpoena log that it’s not required to maintain as well as having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Shelter Island: 70 or C-. Days: 78
Nestled between the North Fork and the South Fork, the Town of Shelter Island is the least populous town on Long Island with more than 2,300 residents. We emailed our request in two parts to the town clerk. The town scored points for emailing its board meeting minutes and agendas three business days after we made that request, but lost a half point for its response time because the 20-day deadline expired before it acknowledged the request the rest of the documents. After we followed up, the town emailed its payroll list. It lost a point after we had to follow up twice to fulfill that part of the request. The town lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It lost a half point nor for not providing a written FOIL policy, which we later found in the town code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain as well as for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Southampton: 100 or A+. Days 28
Covering the western half of the South Fork from Westhampton Beach to North Haven, the Town of Southampton is home to more than 56,000 residents. We emailed our request in two parts to the town clerk. The town emailed its board meeting minutes and agendas on the same day that we requested them and acknowledged the request for the other documents a day after it was made. The town scored points for emailing its payroll list, subject matter listing, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply as well as sending its meeting agendas, FOIL log and subpoena log that it’s not required to maintain in addition to having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Southold: 100 or A+. Days: 6
Situated on the North Fork of Long Island, the Town of Southold has more than 21,000 residents. It was the only one of the 13 towns on Long Island that we found to have an online FOIL submission tool on its website. Southold was the only town to have an online FOIL submission tool on its website. We sent our request in two parts to the town clerk. The town supplied its board meeting minutes on the same day we requested them and acknowledged the other request within three business days. One business day after that, the town scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Smithtown: 85 or B. Days: 14 
Located in the geographic half-point of Long Island, the Town of Smithtown has more than 117,000 residents. We emailed our request in two parts to the town clerk. The town scored points for emailing its minutes on the same day that we requested them and acknowledged the request for the other documents a day after it was made. The town also got points for emailing its payroll list. It lost a point for not providing a subject matter listing. It lost a half point for not providing a written FOIL policy, which we later found in the town code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The town did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

CITIES: 82 or B

Since there are only two cities on Long Island—Glen Cove and Long Beach, both in Nassau County—and they both scored similarly, their cumulative grade was not dramatically different than their respective scores. The cumulative grade for the two is a B.

Glen Cove: 85 or B. Days: 31
Located on the North Shore in the heart of the Gold Coast overlooking the Long Island Sound, the City of Glen Cove is home to nearly 27,000 residents. Four business days after we emailed our request to the city, the clerk wrote back to acknowledge the request. The city scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and city council meeting minutes within deadlines, but lost a half point because we had to follow up once for a file that wasn’t included in its initial reply. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The city did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Long Beach: 80 or B-. Days: 28
In the center of its eponymous barrier island stretching from Lido Beach to East Atlantic Beach, the City of Long Beach, a.k.a. The City by the Sea, is home to more than 33,000 residents. Four business days after we emailed our request to the city, the clerk wrote back to acknowledge the request. The city scored points for emailing its payroll list and city council meeting minutes before the 20-day deadline. It lost a point for not providing a subject matter listing or a written FOIL policy. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The city did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

VILLAGES: 74 or C

Long Island is home to 96 villages ranging in size from Hempstead, which ranks as the most populous village in New York State, to Derring Harbor on Shelter Island, the state’s least populous. These municipalities are varied greatly in their responsiveness to records requests, with some responding faster than larger government agencies and one completely ignoring repeated requests. The cumulative grade for LI’s villages is a C.

Amityville: 80 or B-. Days: 1
Located in the southwesternmost corner of Suffolk County, the Village of Amityville is home to more than 9,500 residents. Within minutes of emailing our request to the village, its clerk called to discuss how we could obtain the records and guided us through the Amityville website. The village scored points for its response time, providing its meeting minutes and payroll list. It lost points for providing neither a written FOIL policy nor a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request, although the village website was updated to include that info before this report was completed. After receiving the grade, Village Clerk/Treasurer Dina Shingleton said that the village did, in fact, have a subject matter listing and a FOIL policy, but she was new on the job at the time and wasn’t able to find those documents. “We process all of our FOIL requests in a timely manner,” she said.

Asharoken: 90 or A-. Days: 32
The Village of Asharoken, an isthmus linking Northport and Eaton’s Neck on the North Shore of Suffolk County, is home to 654 people. Seven business days after emailing our request to the village, it acknowledged our request in a letter that that indicated we should expect a response in two to three weeks. Although its initial response was not received by the five-day deadline, the letter was postmarked in time. The village clerk emailed most of the documents within the 20-day deadline, earning a point for response time. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing but got points for sending its FOIL policy, board meeting minutes and payroll list. The village received a point in the helpfulness category for emailing its board meeting agendas, which it’s not required to maintain, and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Atlantic Beach: 75 or C. Days: 9
Home to more than 1,900 people, the Village of Atlantic Beach sits on the westernmost tip of Long Beach Island. Seven business days after we emailed our request to the village, its clerk emailed us back fully addressing our request. They lost a half point for not meeting the five-day deadline to acknowledge the request, but fulfilled the request ahead of the 20-day deadline. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Babylon: 80 or B-. Days: 11
The Village of Babylon, home to more than 12,100 people, is not to be confused with the Town of Babylon, of which it is a part. Seven business days after we mailed our request to the village, its clerk emailed us back fully addressing our request. It lost a half point for not responding within the five-day deadline. It got points for emailing copies of its payroll list and the village board minutes even though it could have sent a link to the documents on the village website. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, emailing board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. After receiving the grade, Village Clerk Patricia Carley maintained that the response “was made in a timely manner. We are very diligent in fulfilling FOIL requests.”

Baxter Estates: 55 or F. Days: 106
About 1,000 people live in the Village of Baxter Estates on the Port Washington Peninsula south of Sands Point. We emailed our request twice, sent a copy in the mail and called twice before we finally reached the clerk, who said it was her first week on the job. The village was deducted a point because we had to follow up so many times, but since the new clerk was responsive once we got in touch, it got a half point for response time. The village scored points for emailing the payroll list and board meeting minutes. It lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. It received a point in the helpfulness category for emailing village board meeting minutes even though it could have sent a link to the documents on the village website and for sending its subpoena log that it’s not required to maintain. But it got no points since its website did not have any information on how to file a FOIL request. After receiving the grade, Village Clerk-Treasurer Chrissy Kiernan took issue with the score because the FOIL request was already filed before she started with the village. “Please know that at the time of your request, I was still familiarizing myself with the village’s records,” she wrote. She noted that the village provided most of the documents, created a log of subpoenas upon request, has since created the one missing document, the subject matter listing, and recently looked into implementation of FOIL-tracking software. “I hope this letter puts you at ease on how serious we take the transparency law and I hope you will reconsider our score.”

Bayville: 65 or D. Days: 81
Overlooking the Long Island Sound in northeastern Nassau County, the Village of Bayville has more than 6,700 residents. Five business days after we emailed our request, we received an email acknowledging it and stating that we’d receive a response within the 20-day deadline. When that deadline passed without an update, the village received a half point for response time. After following up twice, the village scored a point for emailing its subject matter listing but lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. After we followed up a third time for the rest of the requested documents omitted in the earlier reply, resulting in the deduction of a point, the village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for emailing its agendas that it’s not required to maintain, but got no points for emailing a link to the village’s homepage in response to a request for its minutes and not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Bellerose: 85 or B. Days: 36
Located on the Queens border in western Nassau County, the Village of Bellerose, which more than 1,200 people call home, is not to be confused with the nearby neighborhood in Queens of the same name. Three business days after we emailed our request to the village, we received an email reply acknowledging the request. The village got points for its response time as well as emailing its FOIL policy, payroll list and board meeting minutes. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It lost a half point because we had to follow up for one document that was missing from its response. It got a point in the helpfulness category for emailing copies of the village board meeting minutes even though they could have sent a direct link to the documents on the village website and for emailing its agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not comment on its grade.

Bellport: 60 or D-. Days: 85
The Village of Bellport is home to more than 2,000 residents on the South Shore of Suffolk County just east of Patchogue. We emailed our request to the village twice, mailed a hardcopy and called before receiving a response after the deadlines, resulting in no points for response time. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not providing a subject matter listing and we deducted a point because we had to follow up six times to get our request fulfilled. But the village gained a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Belle Terre: 65 or D. Days: 29
Overlooking the Long Island Sound on a North Shore peninsula in Suffolk County just north of Port Jefferson, the Village of Belle Terre is home to nearly 800 residents. After we emailed our request, we received a letter postmarked after the five-day deadline, but the village fulfilled the request within the 20-day deadline, so they lost a half point for response time. The village scored points for sending its payroll list and board meeting minutes but lost a point for not emailing the documents as requested. It lost a point for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its village board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request, but got no points because it charged $6 for copies of the village board meeting minutes that were on the village website. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Brightwaters: 65 or D. Days: 13
Located near the geographic midpoint of Long Island on the South Shore of Suffolk County, the Village of Brightwaters has more than 3,000 residents. Seven business days after we emailed our request, we received a call requesting clarification. The next day, the village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. It got a half point for its response time. The clerk overlooked the request for the subject matter listing. After a follow up, resulting in the loss of a half point, the clerk replied the same day to say the village doesn’t maintain one, for the loss of another point. It lost another half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. A point was deducted in the helpfulness category for asking why we were making the request but the village gained a point for its speedy reply, sending its meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. It got no points for directing us to the village’s website homepage for the board meeting minutes and agendas instead of providing a direct link. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Brookville: 65 or D. Days: 89
The Village of Brookville, located in northeastern Nassau County, is home to more than 3,500 residents. Five business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk called to acknowledge the request and seek clarification. The village got points for supplying the payroll list and village board meeting minutes. But since the reply was after the 20-day deadline, it only got a half point for response time. Their initial reply omitted some requests, which required us to follow up five times, resulting in the deduction of one point, until the clerk was able to provide its subject matter listing, for one point. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. It got a point in the helpfulness category by providing copies of its board meeting agendas, which it isn’t required to maintain, and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, Village Clerk/Treasurer Winnie Citarella said: “We are disappointed we only received a barely passing grade, I’m sure we’ll do better next time. We do have a FOIL policy, which includes responding to all requests within five days. Your original request was forwarded by me to the Records Officer for processing. There was a inter-office mix-up where the attorney and I both assumed the other had responded within the deadline. We have taken steps to ensure this will no longer occur. If there’s another grading period in the future I’m sure we will achieve a more auspicious mark.”

Cedarhurst: 32 or F. Days: 105
Located in southwestern Nassau County, more than 6,600 residents live in the Village of Cedarhurst. After we emailed our request, we received a letter postmarked three days later from the village attorney. The letter acknowledged the request and asked that we provide written certification that we wouldn’t use the staff payroll information for fundraising purposes, which we provided. But when we followed up after the 20-day deadline passed without a response, the attorney asked us to resend the original FOIL request and then directed us to contact the village clerk, who provided the village board meeting minutes, for one point. The village got a half point for response time. When the village failed to respond to six follow-up requests, resulting in the deduction of a point, it constituted a denial, which was appealed. Since the 10-day deadline to respond to an appeal passed without the village providing the documents, the village lost another point and lost points for not providing its payroll list and subject matter listing. It got a half point because it did not fulfill our request for its FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its board meeting agendas, which it’s not required to maintain, and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request.

Centre Island: 80 or B-. Days: 75
The Village of Centre Island, located on a peninsula overlooking Oyster Bay, has more than 400 residents. Three days after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied to acknowledge it and responded with some documents and a partial denial within the 20-day deadline, earning a point for response time. The village got points for emailing its payroll list, board meeting minutes and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. The clerk did not acknowledge our request for the village board meeting agendas, and since we had to follow up twice to get them, the village lost a point. But it got a point in the helpfulness category for later providing those documents, which it is not required to maintain, and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Cove Neck: 90 or A-. Days: 42
Located on a peninsula jutting into Oyster Bay, the Village of Cove Neck is home to about 300 people. Seven business days after we emailed our request, we received an acknowledgement. The 20-day deadline passed without an update, resulting in no points for response time. The village got points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy, board meeting minutes and subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for providing a copy of its board meeting agendas that it isn’t required to maintain, but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Dering Harbor: 90 or A-. Days: 14
With just 11 residents, the Village of Dering Harbor on the North Shore of Shelter Island ranks as the least populous village in New York State. Two business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied to acknowledge it and ask that we re-submit the FOIL on a village form. The clerk responded within the 20-day deadline, earning a point for response time. The village got points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy, board meeting minutes and subject matter listing. In the helpfulness category, it got a point for its speedy reply and providing its board meeting agendas that it isn’t required to maintain, but a point was deducted for asking why we filed the request. It’s one of the few villages on LI that did not have its own website at the time we filed our request, although it since contracted to build one. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

East Hampton: 75 or C. Days: 90
About 1,100 residents live in the Village of East Hampton on the South Fork. Three business days after we emailed our request, we received an acknowledgement, but the village lost a half point when we didn’t hear back before the 20-day deadline. After we followed up twice, resulting in the loss of a point, the village got points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its board meeting agendas that it isn’t required to maintain, but got no points since its website had no information on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

East Hills: 70 or C-. Days: 92
Located in the greater Roslyn area, the Village of East Hills is home to about 7,000 residents. After we emailed our request, we received a letter postmarked 10 days later indicating that we should expect a response in 20 days. When that deadline passed, resulting in no points for the response time, we followed up three times, resulting in the deduction of a point, before we finally received an email from the village attorney. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy, board meeting minutes and subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for emailing copies of its minutes even though it could have sent a link to the minutes page on its website and emailing its meeting agendas that it isn’t required to maintain, as well as for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

East Rockaway: 80 or B-. Days: 26
The Village of East Rockaway in southwestern Nassau County is home to more than 9,800 residents. One day after we emailed our request, we received a call previewing the village’s letter of acknowledgement. The village scored points for its response time as well as providing its board meeting minutes, FOIL policy and payroll list. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing and another point was lost for not emailing the documents as requested. The village, which charged $23.50 for its records, got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its board meeting agendas, which it isn’t required to maintain, and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request but got no points for charging for paper copies of village board meeting minutes when it could have sent a link to the minutes on the village’s website. The clerk-treasurer declined to comment on the village’s grade.

East Williston: 65 or D. Days: 67
Located in central Nassau County, the Village of East Williston is home to more than 2,500 people. One day after we emailed our request, we received a response acknowledging it, but the village later missed the 20-day deadline, so it got a half point for its response time. It scored points for emailing its payroll list and village board meeting minutes. It lost a point for neither providing a FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. It lost a point when we had to follow up for the payroll twice. In the helpfulness category, it got a point for sending its meeting agendas, which it isn’t required to maintain, and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request but lost a point for referring us to the village’s website homepage for its minutes. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Farmingdale: 60 or D-. Days: 77

The Village of Farmingdale is home to more than 8,600 people on the Nassau County side of the border with Suffolk County. Four days after emailing our request, the village replied by mail to acknowledge it. The village then emailed its reply on the 20-day deadline, earning one point for its response time. It scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes, but didn’t acknowledge three other documents that were missing. After we followed up three times, resulting in the deduction of a point, the clerk did not provide a written FOIL policy and said the village doesn’t maintain a subject matter listing, resulting in the loss of two points. In the helpfulness category, the village got a point for emailing copies of its minutes when it could have just sent a link to the minutes on its website and for sending its FOIL log and meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but it got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Floral Park: 40 or F. Days: 121
More than 14,000 people live in the Village of Floral Park, which is located on the central Nassau County border with Queens. We emailed our request twice, mailed a hardcopy and called before the clerk acknowledged receiving the requests. The clerk said the office had an administrative backlog due to its fight against a proposed mini-casino at Belmont Racetrack, since scrapped. The village lost a point when we had to follow up three times. The clerk later sent a $22.50 bill for paper copies of the village’s minutes and payroll, for which it got three points. It lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. “While the village did not submit timely to your office all the requested documents due to unexpected extenuating circumstances, the village did fulfill your requests where possible,” Clerk Susan E. Walsh said. “The Village of Floral Park’s goal is to be transparent with public documents. Just last month, the Village of Floral Park upgraded to a new website for that exact purpose.”

Flower Hill: 95 or A. Days: 2
Located just below Port Washington on the North Shore of Nassau County, the Village of Flower Hill is home to more than 4,800 residents. Two days after we emailed our request to the village, we received a full response, earning a point for response time. The village got points for emailing its board meeting minutes, payroll list and subject matter listing. It lost a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, for providing its meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not have a comment on its grade.

Freeport: 70 or C-. Days: 78
The Village of Freeport, which has more than 43,000 residents on the South Shore of Nassau County, is the second largest village in New York State. One day after we emailed our request, the clerk replied to acknowledge receiving it. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes within the 20-day deadline, but did not acknowledge all the documents listed in the request. After we followed up three times, resulting in the deduction of a point, the clerk got a point for providing the FOIL policy and lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for emailing its FOIL log and meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village said that it planned to issue a statement disputing its grade.

Garden City: 75 or C. Days: 21
Located in central Nassau County, the Village of Garden City has more than 22,000 residents. One business day after we emailed our request to the village administrator, the clerk called to acknowledge it and indicated that it would take some time. When the village responded, it scored points for its response time, emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. They lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. In the helpfulness category, the village lost a point for asking why we filed the request but gained a point for sending its meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain, for emailing copies of its minutes even though they could have just sent a link to where they’re posted on the village’s website and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not have a comment on its grade.

Great Neck: 60 or D-. Days: 90
The Village of Great Neck, home to more than 10,00 residents, is located on the north side of the Great Neck Peninsula. After we emailed our request to the village twice and mailed a hardcopy, the clerk called to acknowledge it and apologize for the delay, but the village lost a point for response time. It scored points for emailing its payroll list and village board meeting minutes. The village got a half point for maintaining a subject matter listing but not being able to provide a copy as a result of a leaky roof that destroyed it. It got a half point for not sending its written FOIL policy, which we found in its village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending the agendas that it’s not required to maintain, for sending copies of its minutes even though they could have just sent a link to where they’re posted on the website and for having information on how to file a FOIL request on its website. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Great Neck Estates: 80 or B-. Days: 42
The Village of Great Neck Estates, home to about 2,800 people, is on the North Shore of Nassau County on the Queens border. Three days after we emailed our request, we received an email acknowledging it, but the 20-day deadline lapsed before we heard an update, resulting in the village getting a half point for response time. The village scored points when the clerk emailed a $13 invoice and provided 40 pages of the payroll list, subject matter listing and board meeting minutes. It got a point for emailing its FOIL policy. It lost a point because we had to follow up twice. It received a half point for emailing one of the documents but sending paper copies of others. It picked up another point in the helpfulness category for sending its meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Great Neck Plaza: 65 or D. Days: 62
Nearly 7,000 people live in the Village of Great Neck Estates, which is centrally located on the Great Neck Peninsula. After we emailed our request, the mayor’s assistant replied and said our original email was sent to their spam folder. Five days after resending the request, the village scored points for acknowledging the request and emailing the board meeting minutes. The 20-day deadline passed without an update on the remaining documents, so the village got a half point for its response time. After we followed up twice, resulting in the loss of a point, the village got points for emailing its payroll list. The village lost point for neither maintaining a subject matter listing nor providing a written FOIL policy. It got no points for helpfulness for directing us to Newsday for copies of the village’s payroll and not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request but got a point for sending meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Greenport: 75 or C. Days: 86
Located on the North Fork, more than 2,200 residents live in the Village of Greenport. A month after we emailed our request, the village clerk emailed an acknowledgement with an estimate on when we’d receive the documents. The village got a half point for response time. It scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy, village board meeting minutes and subject matter listing. The village was lost a point because we had to follow up three times after several village-requested deadline extensions passed before the request was fulfilled. In the helpfulness category, the village got a point for emailing its meeting agendas and FOIL log, neither of which is it required to maintain, and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request, but got no points for directing us to the village website for board meeting minutes. “We must do better,” village trustee Doug Roberts said when informed of the grade. “I will be bringing this up for discussion at our next work session. Thank you for your work to hold government accountable.” Clerk Sylvia Pirillo noted that the village has improved its responsiveness since we filed our request. “I did agree that one portion of your seven-part request could perhaps have been answered in a more timely manner,” she wrote. “Also, it must be simultaneously noted that the terminology ‘as far back as records are kept’ is nebulous at best, in terms of Records Access Requests. In the one-plus year since your request, the Village has streamlined its FOIL process, with great success.”

Head of the Harbor: 95 or A. Days: 62

As the name suggests, the 1,400-resident Village of Head of the Harbor overlooks Stony Brook Harbor. This is one of the few villages that doesn’t have an email address listed on its website, so we mailed our request. The reply acknowledging it was postmarked seven days after we sent it, but the village promptly turned over its records, so it got a half point for response time. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, board meeting minutes, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply and sending its meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not return a request for comment on its grade.

Hempstead: 85 or B. Days: 36
The Village of Hempstead, not to be confused with the larger Town of Hempstead that includes the village within its borders, is the largest village in New York State, with more than 55,000 residents. Four days after we emailed our request, we received a call acknowledging it and a written reply followed soon after. The village replied within the 20-day deadline, earning a point for response time. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes but lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing a written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. In the helpfulness category, it got a point for emailing the meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request and got no points for directing us to the website homepage instead of sending a direct link to the minutes. “Eighty five I think is a really good score,” said Village Clerk Patricia Perez.

Hewlett Bay Park: 80 or B-. Days: 39
Located in the Five Towns area of southwestern Nassau County, the Village of Hewlett Bay Park has about 400 residents. Since this is one of the few villages for which neither a website nor email address could be found, we mailed our request and received a reply in the mail a month later indicating we’d be contacted in 20 days. The village scored points after the clerk emailed the payroll list and village board meeting minutes a week later. It received a half point for its response time. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for emailing the meeting agendas that it is not required to maintain. “Nobody here ever said we do not have a FOIL policy,” Clerk Michelle Blandino said upon receiving the grade. “Not sure where you received that information from.”

Hewlett Harbor: 75 or C. Days: 60
More than 1,200 residents live in the Village of Hewlett Harbor, which is located in the Five Towns area of southwestern Nassau County. Unable to find an email address for the village, we sent our request by mail. Shortly after it arrived, the village attorney called to ask why we sent the request. The village clerk later called to say that he needed clarity on the request but refused to have the conversation over the phone, requiring us to visit village hall to discuss it in person. After the 20-day deadline passed, resulting in the loss of a half point for the village’s response time, the village scored points for emailing its payroll list, board meeting minutes and subject matter listing, but it omitted two items. The village lost a half point because we had to follow up for the remaining documents. It got a half point when the village didn’t provide its written FOIL policy, which we later found in its village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for emailing its meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain, got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request and lost a point for asking us why we filed the request and making us go to village hall to fulfill the request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Hewlett Neck: 75 or C. Days: 33
Nearly 500 residents live in the Village of Hewlett Neck, located in the Five Towns area of southwestern Nassau County. We emailed our request and received a reply in the mail a month later indicating we’d be contacted in 20 days. The village scored points after the clerk emailed the payroll list and board meeting minutes a week later. It received a half point for its response time. It lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point for emailing the meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. “Nobody here ever said we do not have a FOIL policy,” Village Clerk Michelle Blandino said upon receiving the grade. “Not sure where you received that information from.”

Huntington Bay: 80 or B-. Days: 14
The Village of Huntington Bay, which is home to more than 1,400 residents in northwestern Suffolk County, overlooks a body of water of the same name. Three business days after we emailed our request, the village administrator replied with a letter of acknowledgment. A week later, the village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. It lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, emailing minutes that could have been sent in a link, sending meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Islandia: 50 or F. Days: 93
Located near the Suffolk County seat in Hauppauge, the Village of Islandia is home to more than 3,300 residents. After we emailed our request twice, sent a copy by mail and called, the village sent a letter indicating that we would receive a response in 20 days, but that deadline passed without an update. For that, the village lost a point for response time, lost another point because we had to follow up more than three times, and, because the lack of response was considered a denial, it lost another point because we had to file an appeal in which it neither provided a written denial nor identified its appeals officer. The village eventually scored points for providing its payroll list, board meeting minutes, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It also got a point in the helpfulness category for providing free paper copies of its subpoena log that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. It lost a point for not emailing the documents. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Island Park: 0 or F. Days: N/A
The Village of Island Park, an archipelago north of Long Beach, is home to about 2,000 residents. Island Park was the only village that did not respond to any of our attempts—eight in this case—to request records. We emailed our request twice, sent a copy in the mail, called twice and hand-delivered a copy. When the village didn’t reply, the lack of response was considered a denial, which we appealed to the mayor, village board and village attorney via email and regular mail. The village didn’t respond to that, either. Although the village board meeting minutes could be found online and it got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request, that was not enough to improve its grade of zero, the lowest of any village. After being informed of the grade, the village finally responded with a link to its website directing us to the board meeting minutes, a copy of the payroll list and an explanation for why the rest of the documents weren’t provided. “Unfortunately, this FOIL request was unable to be fulfilled as the records requested do not exist,” said Jayme Klein, secretary to the village board. Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty said as a result of the audit, the village has put in place a retention officer and retention review officer to quickly respond to FOIL requests. “Going forward, we will take corrective actions, not only for the stakeholders, but for the public at large.” He added: “I’m cooperative, I don’t want to hide anything…I don’t know how it slipped through the cracks, it will never happen again.”

Kensington: 75 or C. Days: 19
More than 1,100 people live in the Village of Kensington, which is located at the base of the Great Neck Peninsula. One day after we emailed our request, the village clerk wrote back with an invitation to come to village hall to go through the files. We wrote back to ask if she meant that she was unable to provide copies of records and we could only inspect files in person. Without answering the question, the clerk wrote back to ask if we were looking for something specific. We reiterated the list of records requested. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. The village lost points for not maintaining a subject matter listing and because we had to follow up twice. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply and sending the meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. Clerk-Treasurer Arlene Giniger responded: “That’s why we provide the information on the website. The information is public, and anyone can use it.”

Kings Point: 5 or F. Days: 151
The Village of Kings Point is home to more than 5,000 residents at the northernmost tip of the Great Neck Peninsula. After we twice emailed our request, the village clerk responded to acknowledge it and said that the village attorney was reviewing it. After a month passed without an update, the village lost a point for its response time. We followed up again, and the village scored points for emailing its board meeting minutes. When we followed up a third time, resulting in the deduction of a point, the village got a point for emailing its payroll list. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. The clerk said that it could only provide paper copies of its agendas, which cost $1.75. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for providing copies of its meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain, but got no points for sending us a link to its website homepage for its board meeting minutes and for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Lake Grove: 40 or F. Days: 91
Located just north of Lake Ronkonkoma and just south of Stony Brook, the Village of Lake Grove is home to more than 11,100 people. We twice emailed our request to the village, mailed a hardcopy and called twice without getting a reply. The village lost a point for its response time and another point because we had to follow up five times. Since the lack of a response constituted a denial, we filed an appeal, resulting in the loss of another point. Although it didn’t provide a written denial, it got a half point in the denial category for identifying its FOIL appeals officer in its FOIL form. The clerk then called to say that the village does not have a subject matter listing, so it lost a point. The village scored points for mailing hard copies of its board meeting minutes and payroll list with a bill for $26.75. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment.

Lake Success: 55 or F. Days: 1

The Village of Lake Success is home to nearly 3,000 residents on the Queens-Nassau County border just south of the Great Neck Peninsula. One day after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied with the village board meeting minutes. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor a list of employees detailing their names, titles and salaries. The clerk said they don’t have a staff payroll list due to a reduced staff as a result of the 2-percent tax cap, which resulted in the in the deduction of a point because denying a FOIL request on the basis of being short staffed is forbidden by law. It lost a half point because we had to follow up once. It received a point in the helpfulness category for the speedy reply and sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Lattingtown: 100 or A+. Days: 30
Overlooking the Long Island Sound, the Village of Lattingtown, nestled between Glen Cove and Bayville, has more than 1,700 residents. Five business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied, indicating that we would receive a response in 20 days. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, board meeting minutes, FOIL policy and subject matter listing. It got one point in the helpfulness category for providing its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Laurel Hollow: 90 or A-. Days: 4
Located just north of Woodbury and south of Cove Neck on the Nassau-Suffolk county line, the Village of Laurel Hollow is home to about 2,000 residents. Four business days after we emailed out request to the village, it scored points when the clerk emailed its payroll list, board meeting minutes and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. It got one point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, providing the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Lawrence: 35 or F. Days: 92
More than 3,800 people live in the Village of Lawrence, located in the southwestern corner of Nassau County on the Queens border and overlooking Reynolds Channel. We twice emailed our request, mailed a copy and called twice but still received no reply. The village lost a point for its response time. The lack of a reply constituted a denial, which we appealed, resulting in the loss of another point because the denial was neither in writing nor identified the appeals officer. When the clerk finally acknowledged the request, the village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in its village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for providing the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. Village Administrator-Clerk/Treasurer Ronald Goldman said that the village thought it had responded appropriately and has improved its responsiveness since we filed our request. “I’m sorry that it was somewhat delayed; we try to be conscientious,” he said. “Since this whole process, we’ve added another person to our staff, so that should move things along.”

Lindenhurst: 40 or F. Days: 43
Overlooking the Great South Bay in southwestern Suffolk County, more than 27,000 residents call the Village of Lindenhurst home. Since no email address could be found for the village, we mailed our request and received a response postmarked 11 days later with a $19 bill for copies of the board meeting agendas and payroll list. The village scored points for sending those documents, but it lost half point for response time. It lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. The village lost a half point because we had to follow up for the board meeting minutes, which its clerk said were not kept up to date due to staffing issues, which resulted in the deduction of a point because denying a FOIL request on the basis of being short staffed is forbidden by law. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not comment on its grade.

Lloyd Harbor: 75 or C. Days: 92
The Village of Lloyd Harbor, which has more than 3,600 residents, is northwestern Suffolk County, jutting into the Long Island Sound with Huntington Bay to the east and Oyster Bay to the west. When the village’s email account rejected our request, we mailed a copy. We received a letter postmarked six days later acknowledging it. When the 20-day deadline passed, we called up twice before the clerk emailed a response. As a result, the village got a half point for response time. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It neglected to include the subject matter listing, which it later supplied. Since we had to follow up three times, we deducted a point. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Lynbrook: 100 or A+. Days: 12
Nestled between Rockville Centre and Valley Stream in southwestern Nassau County, the Village of Lynbrook is home to more than 19,000 residents. Three business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk acknowledged it. Four days after that, the village scored points when the clerk emailed the board meeting minutes, FOIL policy and payroll list. The village lost a half point when we had to follow up for the subject matter listing, which it got a point for providing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, sending copies of minutes when it could have sent a link, sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Malverne: 50 or F. Days: 159
Tucked between Lynbrook and Floral Park, the Village of Malverne is home to more than 8,500 residents. When we twice emailed our request to the village without getting a response, we mailed the request. Five business days after that, the village responded by mail, showing that its first attempt to respond to our second email was returned to sender because it was sent to the wrong address. For that, the village lost a point for its response time. It blamed the lag in responding on staff cuts. It scored points for emailing its payroll list, subject matter listing and board meeting minutes, which were partially sent in paper form at a cost of $15.25. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. A point was deducted because we had to follow up three times. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request but a point was deducted for asking why we filed the request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Manorhaven: 35 or F. Days: 99
Overlooking Manhasset Bay on the west side of the Port Washington Peninsula, the Village of Manorhaven has more than 6,500 residents. One day after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied to acknowledge it. The village scored points for emailing its board meeting minutes but lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. The clerk said the village does not maintain a list of employees detailing their names, titles and salaries, but said she would provide the staff payroll list. The village was deducted a point when we had to follow up four times in our unsuccessful attempts to obtain that document. When the village did not respond to those followups, it was considered to be a denial of that part of the request, which we appealed, resulting in the loss of another point because the denial was neither in writing nor identified its FOIL appeals officer. In response, the village attorney inquired about the appeal, but the 10-day deadline for the village to respond to it lapsed without the payroll list being produced, so the village lost another point. It got no points in the helpfulness category for emailing us a link to the village website homepage for the board meeting minutes instead of providing a direct link and got one point for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. After receiving the grade, Village Clerk-Treasurer Sharon Natalie Abramski said that her predecessor had handled our request and Abramski noted that if her work were graded, it would have scored higher. “We have launched an online FOIL and complaint program with GOVPILOT and we really are very good (at least I think we are) about getting back to requests in a timely fashion,” she said. “We do the best we can and take requests seriously. This program keeps a log of requests and dates when responses are due. Since most of the staff is new, an F rating …may have been appropriate for the past clerk, but certainly isn’t a reflection of the new staff or me. I feel we are closer to an A.”

Mastic Beach: 90 or A-. Days: 7
Overlooking Narrow Bay and eastern Fire Island, the Village of Mastic Beach, home to about 13,000 residents, voted in November 2016 to begin the approximately year-long process of disbanding six years after incorporating. Five business days after we emailed our request, the village administrator wrote back. The village scored points for emailing its board meeting minutes, payroll list and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. In the helpfulness category, the village got a point for a point for its speedy reply, sending its FOIL log, subpoena log and board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. “Thank you for your … kind recognition of the village’s compliance with FOIL-related laws,” Village Clerk/Administrator Susan Alevas said when told of the grade.

Matinecock: 85 or B. Days: 1
The Village of Matinecock, which is home to about 800 people, is just east of Glen Cove and west of Mill Neck. One day after we emailed our request to the village, it scored points when the clerk emailed the payroll list and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we found in the village code. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, providing the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Mill Neck: 80 or B-. Days: 29
Overlooking Oyster Bay just south of Bayville is the Village of Mill Neck, which has about 1,000 residents. Five business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk wrote to acknowledge it. The village replied within the 20-day deadline, earning a point for response time. It also scored points for emailing its payroll list and village board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. And it lost a half point because we had to follow up for that last document, which the clerk said the staff plans to compile at an unspecified later date. It got another half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It received a point in the helpfulness category for providing the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Mineola: 70 or C-. Days: 103
Located near the Nassau County seat, the Village of Mineola has more than 18,700 residents. Six business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk emailed to acknowledge it, but the 20-day deadline passed without an update, resulting in the village getting no points for response time. When the deadline passed, we called to check on the status of the request, but the clerk was unable to provide an update. With the lack of a response or request for an extension constituting a denial, we filed an appeal, resulting in the loss of another point because the village did not identify its FOIL appeals officer or provide a written denial. Nine business days after we filed the appeal, the clerk wrote to acknowledge that we should have been notified of the delay and indicated that we would receive the records in a week. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, subject matter listing and board meeting minutes. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. And it got a point in the helpfulness category for sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for referencing the website homepage in response to our request for the minutes and for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not comment on its grade.

Munsey Park: 70 or C-. Days: 58
The Village of Munsey Park is located at the base of the Port Washington Peninsula and has more than 2,600 residents. After we emailed our request to the village clerk but didn’t receive a reply, we sent a follow-up email, to which the village attorney replied three business days later, saying the first request went to spam folder. Three business days after that, the clerk replied with a bill for $5.95 for paper copies of the requested documents. After we mailed a check, the village scored points for sending its board meeting minutes, FOIL policy and payroll list. The village lost a point because we had to follow up twice for documents that were missing from its initial reply. The lack of response to those followups was considered a denial, which we appealed, resulting in the loss of another point, which the village gained back when it responded by providing its subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending the board agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request but got no points for charging us for paper copies of minutes that were found on the village website. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Muttontown: 65 or D. Days: 43
Located between Jericho and Oyster Bay, the Village of Muttontown has more than 3,400 residents. Three business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied with a bill for $14.50 for unspecified documents that it said to pick up in person. When we picked up the documents, they only included the village board meeting minutes and agendas. Because we had to follow up for the balance of the request, the village lost a half point. After the 20-day deadline passed without a request for an extension, resulting in the loss of a half point for its response time, the village scored points for its $1 bill for the remaining documents, including the payroll list and subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request but a point was deducted because we had to pick the documents up in person. In response to receiving the grade, Village Clerk-Treasurer Lisa Lolis said that the board meeting minutes and agendas were too voluminous to scan and email, but did not respond when asked why other requested documents with smaller page counts couldn’t be scanned if the number of pages was the only issue. She also said that our follow-up conversation helped “to identify documents which although not directly responsive to your original FOIL might have provided some value in your research.” One document was titled “Inc. Village of Muttontown Subject Matter Listing,” which is precisely the document we requested, and the other was employees names and salaries, as requested.

New Hyde Park: 55 or F. Days: 86
Tucked between Floral Park and Garden City Park in western-central Nassau County, the Village of New Hyde Park has more than 9,700 residents. When the village didn’t respond to our first emailed request, we followed up and the clerk acknowledged it, saying that we would hear back in a week. But that deadline passed, resulting in the village losing a point for response time. We then followed up three more times, resulting in the deduction of a point. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Nissequogue: 85 or B. Days: 3
Overlooking Smithtown Bay, the Village of Nissequogue is home to more than 1,700 residents just north of St. James. Three business days after we emailed out request to the village, it scored points when the clerk emailed its payroll list and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in its village code. In the helpfulness category, it got a point for its speedy reply and sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, Village Clerk Maryjane Kenney sent the FOIL policy. “Hopefully, this information will help in raising our score,” she said.

North Haven: 70 or C-. Days: 83
The Village of North Haven, which has more than 800 residents, is located on a peninsula that is the northernmost point on the South Fork. Unable to find an email address on the village website, we mailed our request and received an email reply seven days later with a bill for $6.75 for paper copies and a request for clarification on one of the requests. We provided the clarification, but the 20-day deadline passed before we heard back, resulting in a half point for response time. It lost a half point because we had to follow up once. The village scored points for sending its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

North Hills: 70 or C-. Days: 71
Located just south of the Port Washington Peninsula, the Village of North Hills is home to about 5,000 residents. We emailed out request to the village administrator and received a letter postmarked three days later acknowledging it followed shortly by a bill for $5.50. But, since we had to file our request in two FOIL forms due to the lack of space on them, a response to the second half of our request came after the five-day deadline, resulting in a half point for the village’s response time. After we followed up, resulting in the loss of a half point, the village sent a bill for $24 for the rest of the request. The village scored points for sending its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. Since we had to follow up twice, it lost a point. And because it didn’t email the documents as requested, it lost another point. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Northport: 85 or B. Days: 12
Overlooking Northport Bay and located just north of Greenlawn, the Village of Northport has about 7,400 residents. Three business days after we emailed our request to the village, its clerk wrote to acknowledge it. The village then supplied the documents five business days later, earning a point for its response time. It scored points for emailing its payroll list and village board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining the subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, sending copies of its minutes when it could have sent a link to them, sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Ocean Beach: 70 or C-. Days: 61
The Village of Ocean Beach, home to about 80 year-round residents and hundreds of seasonal homeowners, is considered the unofficial capital of Fire Island’s 17 resort communities. We broke this request into two parts. One day after we emailed our first request to the village, its clerk called back with a bill for $14.25. When the documents arrived, the village scored points for sending its payroll list, FOIL log and subpoena log. Four days after we emailed our second request, the village clerk called with a bill for $7.25 and the village scored points for sending its village board meeting minutes and agendas. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It lost a half point because we had to follow up for the documents that weren’t included in the original reply. It lost a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point for its speedy reply, sending the board meeting agendas and logs that it’s not required to maintain as well as having information on the village’s website on how to file a FOIL request but got no points for charging us for paper copies of minutes and agendas that were found on the village’s website. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Old Brookville: 60 or D-. Days: 64
Located south of Glen Cove in northeastern Nassau County, the Village of Old Brookville is home to more than 2,100 residents. Four business days after we emailed our request to the village’s general inbox, the clerk replied to acknowledge it. Five business days after that, the clerk sent a $12 bill for 48 pages of unspecified documents. We sent the check and the village cashed it, but the 20-day deadline passed without the documents arriving. We called to follow up and the clerk re-sent the documents and when they arrived, the village scored points for providing its board meeting minutes and agendas. We followed up a second time to ask what happened to the other five documents requested. The village then lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. When we followed up a third time for the payroll list, resulting in the deduction of a point, the village got a point and a half: one for the document, the other for sending at least that part of the request via email. The village got another half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for sending the agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Old Field: 85 or B. Days: 35
Overlooking the Long Island Sound on a peninsula just north of Stony Brook, the Village of Old Field has more than 900 residents. We emailed our request to the village, but when we didn’t receive a reply, we sent a followup, to which the clerk replied that it has no record of the first email. A day after acknowledging the request, the village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. Since the village said it didn’t receive our initial email, we gave it a point for its response time and didn’t take off a half point when we had to follow up. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply after we got in touch, for sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, Mayor Michael Levine suggested the grade should be higher. “An 85 in my book has always been, and always will be, a B+,” he said. “You’re a tough grader!”

Old Westbury: 65 or D. Days: 79
The Village of Old Westbury, which is home to more than 4,600 people, is in northern Nassau County between Brookville and East Hills. We twice emailed our request, mailed a copy and called twice before we got a letter from the clerk stating that “the Village of Old Westbury has no records responsive to your request.” The village got no points for its response time and a half point for its written denial, which we appealed. In our appeal, we cited the fact that one of the five most recent board meeting minutes that we requested was on the village website and therefore clearly available. The village then scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy, board meeting minutes and subject matter listing. We followed up for the rest of the requested documents, resulting in the village being deducted a point because we had to follow up six times. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, Administrator Brian Ridgway declined to comment because the request predated his employment with the village.

Oyster Bay Cove: 75 or C. Days: 107
Located just east of Oyster Bay in northeastern Nassau County, the Village of Oyster Bay Cove has more than 2,100 residents. Nine business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied to request a two-month extension. When we followed up for an update, the clerk requested a second extension of two more weeks. When we followed up after that deadline passed, we did not receive a response. The village then lost a point for its response time. Since that lack of a response constituted a denial, we filed an appeal, but the village got a half point for identifying its FOIL appeals officer on its FOIL form. Since we had to follow up twice, the village was deducted a point. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy, board meeting minutes and subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for emailing its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Patchogue: 75 or C. Days: 93
The Village of Patchogue, which is home to more than 11,700 residents, is on the South Shore of Suffolk County between Bayport and Bellport. Nine business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied, getting a half point for response time. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It later billed us $8 and mailed paper copies of its FOIL log, getting a half point for emailing some documents and mailing others. It lost a half point because we had to follow up once to fulfill the request. In the helpfulness category, the village got a point for sending agendas and FOIL logs that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request but got no points for directing us to the village’s homepage to find the minutes. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Plandome: 80 or B-. Days: 71
The Village of Plandome, located on the southwest side of the Port Washington Peninsula, is home to more than 1,300 residents. We twice emailed our request, mailed a copy and called. The clerk blamed the lack of a response on a “pirate website” falsely purporting to be the village’s. That explained the lack of email response, but the village had yet to reply to the FOIL request we mailed 12 days prior, resulting in a half point for the response time. The village scored points for sending its payroll list and board meeting minutes. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply once we got through but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Plandome Heights: 85 or B. Days: 49
About 1,000 residents live in the Village of Plandome Heights on the southwest side of the Port Washington Peninsula. Two business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk emailed to acknowledge it. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes, but the 20-day deadline passed before we received a reply on the remaining documents, resulting in the loss of a half point for response time. The village later lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Plandome Manor: 65 or D. Days: 48
Located on the southwest side of the Port Washington Peninsula, the Village of Plandome Manor is home to about 900 people. The second time we emailed our request, the village clerk called the same day to acknowledge it. The village scored points for emailing its FOIL policy, board meeting minutes and providing its payroll. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing and another because we had to follow up twice to get a full response to our request. The village lost a point in the helpfulness category for asking why we filed the request but got a point for sending its meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Port Jefferson: 35 or F. Days: 98
Located on the North Shore of Suffolk County between Setauket and Mt. Sinia, the Village of Port Jefferson is home to more than 7,700 residents. One day after we emailed our request to the village, it scored points when the clerk emailed its FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. The village requested a clarification on the subject matter listing, which we provided, and said it would send the payroll later, but the 20-day deadline passed without an update, resulting in the village getting a half point for response time. Since we had to follow up four times for those documents without a response, the village was deducted a point. The lack of a response on the remaining documents was considered a denial of those requests, which we appealed, but the village never responded to our appeal, so it lost a point. It lost points for not providing its payroll list or subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. Upon receiving the grade, Mayor Margot Garant said that the grade was manipulated and didn’t account for the documents her staff turned over. “We take great exception to your subjective grading system you designed for your FOIL project,” she said. “For instance, it does not account for the fact that the village did respond to five out of seven of your requests and sought further clarification from you on the remaining two. The village did its best efforts to respond to your bulk FOIL request and contends that your grading system is both inaccurate and subject to subjective manipulation. While we acknowledge that it was not complete, our initial compliance and the timing of the responses was well within the confines and spirit of the law.”

Port Washington North: 70 or C-. Days: 97
More than 3,100 people live in the Village of Port Washington North located just south of Sands Point on the Port Washington Peninsula. Four business days after we emailed our request to the village, it scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. It lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. It lost a half point its response time because it didn’t deny that last document until after the 20-day deadline. It also lost a half point because we had to follow up. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Poquott: 85 or B. Days: 37
Overlooking Port Jefferson Harbor, the Village of Poquott has more than 900 residents. Unable to find an email address for the village, we mailed our request and received an email acknowledging it five business days later. The village then replied within the 20-day deadline, getting a point for response time. It scored points for emailing its payroll list and village board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its FOIL logs and board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Quogue: 85 or B. Days: 100
Overlooking Shinnecock Bay, the Village of Quogue, which is home to nearly 1,000 residents, is located on the west end of the South Fork and includes part of Westhampton Island. Four business days after we emailed our request to the village, it scored points for its response time and emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It lost a half point because we had to follow up for items that weren’t included in its initial reply. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Rockville Centre: 90 or A-. Days: 13
The Village of Rockville Centre, home to more than 24,000 residents in southwestern Nassau County, was the only village on Long Island we found that has a FOIL request submission tool on its website. Moments after filing, we received an automated acknowledgment. Ten business days later, the village scored points when its attorney emailed the board meeting minutes. Shortly later, the village attorney emailed the village’s payroll list and subject matter listing. It lost a point for not providing a written FOIL policy. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, sending its board agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, Mayor Francis X. Murray issued a statement: “The village and my administration are committed to total transparency.… The village does not need a written policy because it follows the statute to the letter. Despite receiving hundreds of FOIL requests each year, the village has an impeccable record of timely and complete responses, and has never been found to have violated the requirements of FOIL.”

Roslyn: 70 or C-. Days: 67
Located at the southernmost tip of Hempstead Bay, the Village of Roslyn is home to more than 2,700 residents. Five business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk called with a bill for $43.25 plus postage for 193 pages of documents. After we mailed the check, the village scored points for sending its FOIL policy, payroll list and board meeting minutes. Since we had to follow up for documents that weren’t included in the reply, it lost a half point. When we didn’t get an answer on the unfulfilled portion of the request until after the 20-day deadline, the village got a half point for its response time. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending the board meeting agendas and FOIL log that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Roslyn Estates: 95 or A. Days: 40
Just west of Roslyn, the Village of Roslyn Estates has more than 2,100 residents. When we didn’t hear back the first time we emailed our request to the village clerk, we followed up and received a reply saying that the first email was not received. Two business days later, we received an email acknowledging the request. One business day after that, the village scored points when the clerk emailed its payroll list, subject matter listing and board meeting minutes. It got a point for its response time after we finally got in touch. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. In the helpfulness category, it got points for its speedy reply, sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Roslyn Harbor: 35 or F. Days: 99
Northeast of Roslyn, the Village of Roslyn Harbor, home to about 1,000 residents, was the most actively resistant to complying with our request out of any village on Long Island. We twice emailed our request, sent a copy by mail and called before it was acknowledged. In response to our request for the village’s FOIL policy, the clerk said the village did not maintain one. But moments later, she said that in order to file a records request we needed to go to village hall, provide identification and give a reason. When we replied that it sounded like the village did have a FOIL policy, the clerk replied that she would have to research it, but when she later provided it, requiring identification wasn’t listed in the village’s FOIL policy, although she required this reporter to do so to obtain the village’s payroll information. The village scored points for emailing its board meeting minutes and later providing its payroll in person. It got a half point for emailing some documents but providing paper copies of others. Because we had to follow up four times, a point was deducted. When our requests for the subject matter listing and FOIL policy were denied, we filed an appeal, resulting in the loss of another point since the denial was neither in writing nor was the FOIL appeals officer identified. The clerk then provided the FOIL policy for a point. The village lost a point for not providing its subject matter listing. In the helpfulness category, the village was deducted a point for asking why we filed the request, requiring us to pick up documents in person and requiring identification, but it got a point for providing its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. Village Trustee Sandy Quentzel said she was disappointed in the grade and noted that the clerk who responded to our request is no longer employed with the village. “It’s not our intention not to give public records,” she said, noting that the village has a small staff. “We welcome another request. We take it seriously. Public records are public records.”

Russell Gardens: 70 or C-. Days: 41
Located at the base of the Great Neck Peninsula, more than 900 residents call the Village of Russell Gardens home. When we didn’t receive a response the first time we emailed our request to the village, we sent a followup, to which the clerk replied the same day asking for a 30-day extension. Four business days later, the village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. It lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for its response time and lost a half point because we had to follow up once. It got a point in the helpfulness category for providing its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Saddle Rock: 70 or C-. Days: 115
Overlooking Little Neck Bay on the west side of the Great Neck Peninsula, the Village of Saddle Rock is home to more than 800 residents. We twice emailed our request to the village and called before we got a response from the clerk, who asked us to send it a third time. For this, the village got no points for response time. When the village finally acknowledged the request, 20 business days passed before we heard back, which constituted a denial that we appealed, resulting in the loss of another point because the appeal was neither in writing nor identified the FOIL appeals officer. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy, subject matter listing and board meeting minutes. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Sagaponack: 90 or A-. Days: 1
Located on the South Fork between Bridgehampton and Wainscott, the Village of Sagaponack is home to more than 300 residents. One day after we emailed our request, the village clerk called to acknowledge and fulfill it, earning a point for response time. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, sending the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Sag Harbor: 75 or C. Days: 70
Centrally located on the north side of the South Fork, the Village of Sag Harbor is home to more than 300 residents. Eight business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied to acknowledge it. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. It later got a point for emailing its subject matter listing, but lost a half point because we had to follow up since it wasn’t included in the original reply. It also lost a point for its response time since the request wasn’t fulfilled until after the 20-day deadline. It lost another point for not providing a written FOIL policy. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. After being told the grade, Sag Harbor Trustee James Larocca defended the village staff. “Consider that Sag Harbor is a very small village with a very small full-time staff in Village Hall,” he said. “Our folks work very hard. We treat all requests seriously.”

Saltaire: 90 or A-. Days: 70
Thirty seven year-round residents and hundreds more seasonal homeowners live in the Village of Saltaire, the older of the two incorporated villages among the 17 resort communities on Fire Island. We twice emailed our request to the village and mailed a copy before the administrator replied, stating that the emails were caught in the spam filter. Since that wasn’t the village’s fault, it got a point for response time. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply once we got in touch and sending its agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Sands Point: 35 or F. Days: 112
The Village of Sands Point, home to more than 2,600 residents at the northernmost tip of the Port Washington Peninsula, was the only agency on Long Island to lose a point for charging an excessive price for documents. It charged $150 for an emailed copy of the village’s payroll list, which every other agency either provided for free or charged 25 cents per page for paper copies, the rate allowed by state law. Four business days after we emailed our request to the village, the clerk wrote back acknowledging it. The village scored points for emailing its board meeting minutes, got a half point for its response time and was deducted a point because we had to follow up three times for updates on the status of the request. It lost points for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. After the clerk finally sent the bill for the payroll, we sent a check the same day and the village emailed the document a week later. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for emailing its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. Village attorney Michael Sahn said “nobody ever wants to hear they get an F in anything.” He defended the village clerk, saying “she and the village were very responsive. If you deem it in your view that the village was not responsive, that is your view; that’s not our view.”

Sea Cliff: 85 or B. Days: 80
Overlooking Hempstead Bay from just south of Glen Cove, the Village of Sea Cliff is home to about 5,000 people. Nine business days after we emailed our request to the village, we received a request for a 30-day extension. The village got a half point for its response time. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy, subject matter listing and board meeting minutes. It lost a point because we had to follow up twice. In the helpfulness category, it got no points for directing us to the village website homepage for the meeting minutes and not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request but got a point for sending the board meeting agendas that it isn’t required to maintain. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Shoreham: 75 or C. Days: 63
Overlooking the Long Island Sound on the North Shore of Suffolk County between Rocky Point and Wading River, the Village of Shoreham is home to more than 500 residents. Two business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk wrote asking that we fill out a village FOIL form, which we did the same day. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. Since it sent some of the documents after the 20-day deadline, it got a half point for its response time. It lost a point because we had to follow up twice. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Southampton: 70 or C-. Days: 90
The Village of Southampton, home to more than 3,100 residents, is not to be confused with the Town of Southampton that includes the village on the South Fork. Eight minutes after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied to acknowledge it. The village scored points for emailing its payroll and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing a written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a half point for its response time when the 20-day deadline passed before the request was satisfied. It lost another point because we had to follow up twice to get a full response to the request. It got a point in the helpfulness category for providing the board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. When informed of the grade, Village Administrator Stephen Funsch questioned the premise of the report card. “So you requested all these municipalities to do all this work just so you can do a survey?” he asked. “Classic.”

South Floral Park: 65 or D. Days: 63
The Village of Floral Park, located in central-western Nassau County, is home to more than 1,700 residents. We twice emailed our request to the village and mailed a copy before we got a call from the clerk. The village got no points for its response time. It scored points for emailing its payroll list and village board meeting minutes. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not comment on its grade.

Stewart Manor: 80 or B-. Days: 11
More than 1,800 residents live in the Village of Stewart Manor, located in central-western Nassau County just west of Garden City Park. Eight business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk fully responded to our request. The village got a half point for its response time. The village also scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. The village also got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, emailing minutes when it could have sent a link and for providing its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Thomaston: 95 or A. Days: 3
Just south of the Great Neck Peninsula, the Village of Thomaston is home to more than 2,600 residents. Two business days after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied to acknowledge receiving the request and seek clarification, which we provided. The village scored points when it emailed its payroll list, subject matter listing and board meeting minutes. It got a point for its response time. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. In the helpfulness category, it got another for its speed, sending copies of board meeting minutes when it could have just sent a link to them online and sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

The Branch: 65 or D. Days: 41
The Village of The Branch, home to more than 1,800 residents, is located between Smithtown and Nesconset on the North Shore of central Suffolk County. Nine business days after we emailed our request to the village, its clerk wrote back to acknowledge it and note that the 17 pages of documents will cost $4.25. After we mailed the check, the village scored points for sending its payroll list and board meeting minutes. It got a half point for partially emailing its response. It got a half point for its response time. It got a half point for because we had to follow up once for missing documents in its initial reply. It lost point for neither providing a written FOIL policy nor maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. Mayor Mark Delaney said: “If you or your organization is looking to grade municipalities on transparency then I would give yours an “F” as we hold advertised public meetings regularly (which I have never seen you at), we have office hours where you can come and ask any question you like (again to my knowledge you have never availed yourself of that) and my cell phone number is on the website for anyone to use (I have never received a call from you that I am aware of). Utilizing FOIL requests instead of simply “showing up” is certainly within your rights but puts an unnecessary burden on a part time office staff that, like the rest of us in small village government, are largely volunteers. We would prefer to spend our time serving our residents and I think they would agree. I would argue that our residents enjoy a level of transparency that county and state government are simply incapable of.”

Upper Brookville: 90 or A-. Days: 13
More than 1,600 residents live in the Village of Upper Brookville located in the northwestern corner of Nassau County. Four business days after we emailed our request to the village, it scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It got a point for its response time, but lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply and sending its and board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Valley Stream: 80 or B-. Days: 62
Located on the Queens-Nassau County border, the Village of Valley Stream has more than 37,000 residents. After we emailed our request, the village clerk called back the same day to preview a letter of acknowledgement that arrived three business days later. In its reply, the village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing and lost a half point for its response time when it missed the 20-day deadline to provide all of the documents without requesting an extension. It lost another half point when we had to follow up for documents that weren’t supplied in its initial response. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Westbury: 90 or A-. Days: 15
The Village of Westbury, home to more than 15,000 people, is located in central Nassau County between New Cassel and Carle Place. Two business days after we emailed our request, the village attorney replied to acknowledge it. Nine business days later, the village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply and sending its and board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Westhampton Beach: 70 or C-. Days: 76
Located between Westhampton and Quogue, the Village of Westhampton Beach is home to more than 1,700 residents. Eleven days after we emailed our request, the village clerk replied to acknowledge it, but the 20-day deadline passed before the village provided an update, resulting in no points for its response time. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list and board meeting minutes but lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It lost a half point because we had to follow up once. It got a half point for not providing its written FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. It got a point in the helpfulness category for sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

West Hampton Dunes: 90 or A-. Days 28
The Village of West Hampton Dunes, located on Westhampton Island, the easternmost of Long Island’s four barrier islands, is home to 55 year-round residents, but the population grows during summer. Five business days after we emailed our request, the clerk replied to acknowledge it. The village scored points for emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. The village lost a half point when he had to follow up for one item that wasn’t included in its initial reply. The village lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply, sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain and having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Williston Park: 90 or A-. Days: 7
More than 7,200 people live in the Village of Williston Park, which is located between Mineola and Albertson in central Nassau County. Two business days after we emailed our request to the village, it scored points for its response time, emailing its payroll list, FOIL policy and board meeting minutes. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. The village got a point in the helpfulness category for its speedy reply and sending its board meeting agendas that it’s not required to maintain but got no points for not having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. The village did not respond to a request for comment on its grade.

Woodsburgh: 75 or C. Days: 34
About 800 people live in the Village of Woodsburgh, which is located in the Five Towns area of southwestern Nassau County. One of the few villages for which an email address could not be found, we mailed our request and received a reply in the mail a month later indicating we’d be contacted in 20 days. The village got points after the clerk emailed its payroll list and board meeting minutes a week later. It received a half point for response time. It lost a point for not maintaining a subject matter listing. It lost a half point because we had to us follow up once. It got a half point for stating that it doesn’t have a FOIL policy, which we later found in the village code. In the helpfulness category, it got a point for emailing the board meeting agendas that it is not required to maintain and for having information on its website on how to file a FOIL request. “Nobody here ever said we do not have a FOIL policy,” Village Clerk Michelle Blandino said upon receiving the grade. “Not sure where you received that information from.”

PCLI’s COST: $892.72
[In order of cost from lowest to hightest]

Suffolk County Office of the Aging: $0.50
Village of Kings Point $1.75
Suffolk County District Attorney: $2.05
Nassau County Industrial Development Agency: $2.50
Nassau County Purchasing Department: $3
Nassau County Office of Emergency Management: $3
Nassau County District Attorney: $3.50
Suffolk County Board of Ethics: $4
Village of The Branch: $4.25
Nassau County Civil Service Commission: $5.25
Village of North Hills: $5.50
Village of Munsey Park: $5.95
Village of Belle Terre: $6
Village of North Haven: $6.75
Village of Patchogue: $8
Village of Old Brookville: $12
Village of Great Neck Estates: $13.02
Village of Muttontown: $15.50
Village of Lindenhurst $19
Nassau County Police Department: $20
Village of Ocean Beach: $21.50
Village of Floral Park: $22.50
Village of East Rockaway: $23.50
Suffolk County OTB: $26.50
Village of Lake Grove: $26.75
Village of Roslyn: $54.95
Village of Sands Point: $150
Town of Oyster Bay: $214.50
Town of Islip: $221

Each category can be searched with the search bar at the top of the section. Depending on the size of your screen, you may need to click the green “plus sign” to reveal the remaining results per line.


NASSAU COUNTY

Nassau County
Replied
on Time
Provided
Payroll
Names
Subject
matter
listing
Provided
FOIL
Policy
Denial /
appeal
Fees
Follow-ups
Email
Helpfulness
Total
Grade
Department of Aging1111111108.9B+
Assessor's Office0100000012.2F
Assessment Review Commission0.5110111107.2C-
County Attorney0.5111111119.4A
Consumer Affairs1111110.50.518.9B+
Coordinated Agency for Spanish Americans0.5111111108.3B
Civil Service Commission0.5111010.5016.7D+
County Clerk0.5101110117.2C-
Clerk of the Legislature0.5100110105.0F
Comptroller0.5100110.5116.7D+
Nassau Community College11111111110A+
District Attorney1110111017.8C+
Office of Economic Development0100-100.5000.6F
Office of Emergency Management0100111015.6F
Board of Elections0.5111110118.3B
Board of Ethics0.5110110106.1C-
Executive’s Office0101-11-1102.2F
Fire Marshal0.5111110118.3B
Hardship Review Board1110111118.9B+
Department of Health0.5100000.5013.3F
Human Rights Commission01000.500.5002.2F
Department of Human Resources0.51110.511107.8C+
Department of Human Services0111111107.8C+
Office of Housing and Community Development01010.511117.2C-
Industrial Development Agency1111111007.8C+
Information Technology01000.511015.0F
Nassau Interim Finance Authority11111111-17.8C+
Office of Investigations0111110.5107.2C-
Office of Legislative Budget Review1110110.5107.2C-
Office of Management and Budget0.5111111108.3B
Medical Examiner0.51111100.50.57.2C-
Office of Minority Affairs0111010.5117.2C-
Nassau Downs OTB1111111018.9B+
Parks Department0.5111111119.4A
Office of Physically Challenged0.5111110118.3B
Police Department0111110.5017.2C-
Probation Department0.5111110107.2C-
Public Administrator01100.510.5004.4F
Department of Public Works0.51100.510.5106.1D-
Department of Purchasing0.5111111007.2C-
Department of Real Estate, Planning and Development0111110106.7D+
Sheriff's Department0111111017.8C+
Department of Social Services0.5111110.5006.7D+
Taxi and Limousine Commmission0.5111110.5118.9B+
Treasurer's Office0.5100110.5116.7D+
Nassau University Medical Center0.5100-100.5001.1F
Veterans Services Agency0.5100110.5105.6F
Youth Board1111111108.9B+

SUFFOLK COUNTY

Suffolk County
Replied
on Time
Provided
Payroll
Names
Subject
matter
listing
Provided
FOIL
Policy
Denial /
appeal
Fees
Follow-ups
Email
Helpfulness
Total
Grade
Board of Elections1111111018.9B+
Board of Ethics1111111007.8C+
Clerk of the Legislature11111111110A+
County Attorney01110.510.5117.8C+
County Clerk11111111110A+
County Comptroller0.5111110.5118.9B+
County Executive0.510101-1115.0F
County Sheriff11111110.519.4A
Criminal Justice Coordinating Council010100-1001.1F
Department of Civil Service0.5111111119.4A
Department of Economic Development and Planning0.51111110.507.8C+
Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services11111111110A+
Department of Health Services0.511111-1117.2C-
Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs0.51111100.517.8C+
Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation0.5111111108.3B
Department of Public Works11111111110A+
Department of Social Services11111111110A+
District Attorney0.511111100.57.8C+
Human Rights Commission01111110.518.3B
Industrial Development Agency11011110.518.3B
Information Technology11111111110A+
Medical Examiner01111110.50.57.8C+
Office for People With Disabilities0.51111110.507.8C+
Office for the Aging11111110.508.3B
Office of Legislative Budget Review1111110.5108.3B
Office of Minority Affairs000100-1000.0F
Probation Department0.51111110.507.8C+
Public Administrator0111010.50.505.6F
Real Property Tax Service Agency1101111107.8C+
Soil and Water Conservation District0.5111110.51-16.7D+
Suffolk County Community College0111110.5118.3B
Suffolk County Police Department11111110.519.4A
Suffolk County Transit0111010.50.516.7D+
Suffolk County Water Authority011111-1105.6F
Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation11111110.519.4A
Veterans Services Agency0.5111110.5107.8C+

TOWNS

Town
Replied
on Time
Provided
Payroll
Names
Subject
matter
listing
Meeting
minutes
Provided
FOIL
Policy
Denial /
appeal
Fees
Follow-ups
Email
Helpfulness
Total
Grade
Town of Babylon0.51110110016.5D
Town of Brookhaven0.51111110.5119A-
Town of East Hampton0.51110110.5118B-
Town of Hempstead0.51110.5110.5118.5B
Town of Huntington111111111110A+
Town of Islip0.51111110017.5C
Town of North Hempstead0.5111111-1117.5C
Town of Oyster Bay0.51111111018.5B
Town of Riverhead111111111110A+
Town of Shelter Island0.51010.5110117C-
Town of Smithtown11010.5111118.5B
Town of Southampton111111111110A+
Town of Southold111111111110A+

CITIES

City
Replied
on Time
Provided
Payroll
Names
Subject
matter
listing
Meeting
minutes
Provided
FOIL
Policy
Denial /
appeal
Fees
Follow-ups
Email
Helpfulness
Total
Grade
City of Glen Cove11011110.5118.5B
City of Long Beach11010111118B-

VILLAGES

Village
Replied
on Time
Provided
Payroll
Names
Subject
matter
listing
Meeting
minutes
Provided
FOIL
Policy
Denial /
appeal
Fees
Follow-ups
Email
Helpfulness
Total
Grade
Amityville11010111118B-
Asharoken11011111119A-
Atlantic Beach0.51010111117.5C
Babylon0.51010.5111118B-
Baxter Estates0.5101011-1115.5F
Bayville0.5111011-1116.5D
Belle Terre0.51010111016.5D
Bellerose11011110.5118.5B
Bellport0101111-1116D-
Brightwaters0.51010.5110.5106.5D
Brookville0.5111011-1116.5D
Cedarhurst0.50010.5-11-1113F
Centre Island11110110118B-
Cove Neck01111111119A-
Dering Harbor11111111109A-
East Hampton0.51011110117.5C
East Hills0111111-1117C-
East Rockaway11011111018B-
East Williston0.51010110116.5D
Farmingdale1101011-1116D-
Floral Park0101011-1014F
Flower Hill11110.5111119.5A
Freeport1101111-1117C-
Garden City11011110.5107.5C
Great Neck010.510.511-1116D-
Great Neck Estates0.511111100.518B-
Great Neck Plaza0.51010110116.5D
Greenport0.5111111-1117.5C
Head of The Harbor0.51111111119.5A
Hempstead11010.5111118.5B
Hewlett Bay Park0.51010.5111118B-
Hewlett Harbor0.51110.5110.5107.5C
Hewlett Neck0.51010111117.5C
Huntington Bay11010111118B-
Island Park00010-10-1010F
Islandia0111101-1015F
Kensington11010.5110117.5C
Kings Point01010.511-1115.5F
Lake Grove01010.50.51-1014F
Lake Success10010110.5105.5F
Lattingtown111111111110A+
Laurel Hollow11110111119A-
Lawrence01010.501-1013.5F
Lindenhurst0.51000110.5004F
Lloyd Harbor0.5111111-1117.5C
Lynbrook111111111110A+
Malverne0111011-1105F
Manorhaven0.5001001-1113.5F
Mastic Beach11110111119A-
Matinecock11010.5111118.5B
Mill Neck11010.5110.5118B-
Mineola01110.5010.5117C-
Munsey Park11111010017C-
Muttontown0.51110.5110.5006.5D
New Hyde Park01010.511-1115.5F
Nissequogue11010.5111118.5B
North Haven0.51011110.5017C-
North Hills11011110017C-
Northport11010.5111118.5B
Ocean Beach11010.5110.5017C-
Old Brookville11010.511-10.516D-
Old Field11010.5111118.5B
Old Westbury011110.51-1116.5D
Oyster Bay Cove011110.510117.5C
Patchogue0.51011110.50.517.5C
Plandome0.51010.5111118B-
Plandome Heights0.51011111118.5B
Plandome Manor0.51011110106.5D
Poquott11010.5111118.5B
Port Jefferson0.50011-11-1113.5F
Port Washington North0.51010110.5117C-
Quogue11011110.5118.5B
Rockville Centre11110111119A-
Roslyn0.51011110.5017C-
Roslyn Estates11110.5111119.5A
Roslyn Harbor0101101-10.503.5F
Russell Gardens0.51010110.5117C-
Saddle Rock01111010117C-
Sag Harbor01110110.5117.5C
Sagaponack11011111119A-
Saltaire11011111119A-
Sands Point0.510101-1-1113.5F
Sea Cliff0.51111110118.5B
Shoreham0.51011110117.5C
South Floral Park01010.5110116.5D
Southampton0.51010.5110117C-
Stewart Manor0.51010.5111118B-
Thomaston11110.5111119.5A
Upper Brookville11011111119A-
Valley Stream0.51011110.5118B-
Village of The Branch0.51010110.50.516.5D
West Hampton Dunes11011110.5118.5B
Westbury11011111119A-
Westhampton Beach01010.5110.5117C-
Williston Park11011111119A-
Woodsburgh0.51010.5110.5117.5C
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Timothy Bolger is the Managing Editor for the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.