Thruway Authority refusing to release records

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – News 4 Investigates wants to know how the New York State Thruway Authority is spending some of its toll money.

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Last December News 4 filed a New York Freedom of Information Law request asking to see the last three years of expenses for the agency’s top executives and the authority’s board of directors.

However, even nearly seven months later, the Thruway Authority has refused to release records that News 4 believes should be public. The records are related to the expenses of the board and executives who run the authority.

Drivers spoken to said they share our frustration. “That does not surprise me at all. Government transparency is the buzzword of politicians, but it means absolutely nothing,” said driver Matt Williams.

“Good luck with [getting] that information,” Robert Minick said.  “It sounds like Washington here; keep it a secret,” driver Dave Braley suggested.

News 4 Investigates has made numerous attempts to work with the authority in an effort to receive some of the data requested.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) said he believes the Thruway Authority needs to release the records now.

“What you don’t want entities to do is keep kicking the can down the road. ‘Thank you very much for your request. We’ll get back to you. And then we’ll get back to you.’ And a lot of citizens lose steam,” Ryan said.

News 4 Investigates and its corporate attorneys continue putting pressure on the authority.

Jill Warner, Thruway Records Access and Management Officer, wrote, “Staff needs additional time in order to complete a thorough review of the nearly 3,000 records that have been deemed responsive to [this] request.”

News 4 Investigates expects the records to reveal things like receipts, travel expenses and meal reimbursements.

“If you try to hide something, that often becomes the story,” Assemblyman Ryan said.

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