Guest Column: Privacy – Where does it begin … or end?

first_imgHowever, if the item pertains to a public employee, the courts have repeatedly found that public employees have less privacy than others because they are supposed to be more accountable than others.If an item about a public employee relates to that person’s duties, usually the information is public because disclosure would result in a permissible (not an unwarranted) invasion of privacy.That’s the basis for your right to records indicating the salary, overtime payments, attendance, findings of misconduct, and similar items concerning public employees.I’m a public employee…and if you are not, I have less privacy than you!The point is that you have the right to know various details about me and others, those who are supposed to be your public servants.Robert J. Freeman is executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government. We used to have a joke in the house. If the phone rang after 9:00 p.m., it was either my mother-in-law, or a reporter who’d gotten kicked out of a meeting, seeking an opinion or a comment regarding a board’s compliance with law.My name, home address and home phone number (still a land line) are in the phone book and available online.  Anyone can find me.  My wife, on the other hand, uses a different name for good reason.First, she doesn’t want to be associated with me (completely understandable), and second, she’s a psychotherapist and doesn’t want clients to know where she lives, or her home phone number.She has perfectly valid reasons for saying, “No, never!”  I have equally good reasons for saying, “I don’t care”, and never the twain shall meet. So what do we do about privacy?The courts have given us guidance. When records relate to a private individual, the state’s highest court has offered a standard: the reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities. What would a “reasonable person” feel about disclosure of a particular item?If that person believes that it’s one of those items that is nobody’s business, intimate or highly personal, it’s likely that the item can be withheld. More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census Everyone says, emphatically, “No!”  Well then, why do we see them today?Very simply, the sensibilities of society have changed and are constantly changing.  What had been so intimate, highly personal, risqué or off color seems to be more acceptable today.Next, I ask whether anyone has kids, and whether they’re users of social media.Parents grimace, and I suggest that our kids share information about themselves with their peers that their parents would never share.There are generational differences in views about privacy.Young people, their parents and senior citizens have different notions about what is private and what isn’t.And this is my favorite: two equally reasonable people can look at the same items and disagree. I use my own life as an example. Categories: Editorial, OpinionMany know that the New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) generally gives the public rights of access to records of state and local government agencies, with certain exceptions. My favorite exception states that an agency may withhold records to the extent that disclosure would result in “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” That standard also appears in the federal FOI Act and numerous access laws in other states.When I offer a presentation, I often ask the crowd: “Unwarranted invasion of personal privacy….anyone know what that means?”  Nobody raises a hand, and I say, “That’s OK.  Nobody knows what it means, and nobody will ever know what it means.There isn’t a judge alive who can define that phrase any better than the average reasonable person.”     Then I ask whether anyone has seen the Victoria’s Secret ads on TV, and a few people giggle, some sheepishly, but everyone admits to having seen the ads.Would those ads have run on network TV 25 years ago?last_img read more

Man United in crisis and LVG has TWO games to save job, says former star

first_imgManchester United are in crisis and the next two games will decide Louis van Gaal’s future, according to Mark Bosnich.The Premier League giants have failed to win any of their last six games and Van Gaal’s position is the subject of intense speculation.United visit Stoke on Boxing Day and host Chelsea 48 hours later, and Bosnich believes the Dutchman will be out of a job if they endure a miserable Christmas period.Speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, the former goalkeeper said: “Like with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, there is only so long in modern football that you can stand by somebody.“Three losses on the trot at a major club is a crisis.“If they lose against Stoke and lose against Chelsea, the United board will have no other choice [but to sack Van Gaal].”last_img

Campaign sign stirs unrest

first_imgUNINCORPORATED WHITTIER – Two political banners are posted atop a graffiti-covered railroad bridge above the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway near the Beverly Boulevard exit. The two red, white and blue banners announce Pico Rivera Councilman David Armenta’s run for the Assembly. They have been there for several weeks, and are seen by thousands of motorists who pass under the bridge each day. Armenta said he has no idea who welded the banners on the bridge, but thanked whoever put them there. “I’m flattered and honored that someone would take those extremes to put it up there,” he said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsBut Caltrans officials aren’t so pleased. “It’s a distraction to motorists, it’s a safety issue,” said Caltrans spokeswoman Judy Gish. “We don’t allow signs over the freeways.” Gish said in this case, because the bridge is not owned by Caltrans, she is not sure what Caltrans’ jurisdiction is. The banners have pictures of Armenta and the state Capitol on them. Soon after the banners were erected, the taggers who have spray-painted nearly every visible inch of the bridge vandalized the signs – painting their monikers on the picture of Armenta’s face. The bridge is owned by 81-year-old Los Angeles developer Arnold Carlson, who has previously said he bought it from Union Pacific Railroad so he could access his property on the west side of the freeway. In 2004, Whittier city officials asked Caltrans and Carlson to clean the bridge. Both sides argued that the other was responsible for getting rid of the vandalism, and nothing was done. Representatives from Carlson’s office Tuesday said Carlson has no comment about the political banners. Armenta said Carlson approves of the signs. “Carlson knows it’s up there. He’s a supporter,” said Armenta. Some residents said, with the state primary election coming up June 6, the city has hundreds of campaign signs posted throughout the city. Rowland Heights resident and local activist Roy Humphreys said he takes down the signs from public property “as fast as they can put them up. “These campaign organizations come through a community, many times at 3 a.m. and plaster the community with signs on private property, utility poles and sign posts,” said Humphreys, who formed the Rowland Heights Advocate Inc. group three years ago to address these and other community issues. “They put them up with such callous disregard for public safety,” he said. “The salt in the wound is that they say they will take them down immediately after the election, but they don’t always do that.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more