In testimony today before the City Council Committee on Open Government, the NYCLU Executive Director , Donna Lieberman, will ask the Council to “adopt a resolution urging the Executive branch to exercise its option to rescind the contract with the Giuliani Center because it is incompatible with the legal mandate for open, equal access to information that is lies at the core of a free society.”

Lieberman objects to “the irresponsible removal of official mayoral papers from the direct care and custody of City officials and to a private inaccessible warehouse, the failure of City archivists to inventory the records, and their exclusion from the archival process in favor of private archivists under the financial control of the Giuliani Center. These procedures, undermine the integrity of the government records, impedes access and is an invitation to abuse.”

Moreover, she added, “The current arrangement raises serious constitutional concerns. The law requires public access to government documents in a neutral and even-handed fashion. In conferring access to expressive opportunities, government is prohibited from privileging some and disadvantaging others based on their point of view. But, the regime of access for the official records of the Giuliani mayoralty is an invitation to grant privileged access to some and to deny it to others. And, if past is prologue, where Mr. Giuliani is involved, this presents an almost irresistible attraction. Moreover, it violates the equality principles of the First Amendment.”