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If you thought Darth Cheney was secretive…you'll love Rudy

Let’s see how his campaign responds to this. The AP reports that, while NY government only allows a former mayor to keep a few token gifts when they clean out their desks, Rudy Giuliani would have needed several U-Hauls to remove all the paperwork he whisked out of City Hall, Gracie Mansion and other offices. That doesn’t square with his claim that he believes in “open government.” Or maybe it depends on the meaning of the word “open.”

Under an unprecedented agreement that didn’t become public until after he left office, Giuliani secreted out of City Hall the written, photographic and electronic record of his eight years in office – more than 2,000 boxes.

Along with his own files, the trove included the official records of Giuliani’s deputy mayors, his chief of staff, his travel office and Gracie Mansion – the mayor’s residence that became a legal battlefront during his caustic divorce.

The mayor made famous – and very wealthy – in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has long described his City Hall as an open book.

In a Republican presidential candidates’ debate last week, Giuliani asserted: “My government in New York City was so transparent that they knew every single thing I did almost every time I did it. … I can’t think of a public figure that’s had a more transparent life than I’ve had.”

But the public record, as reviewed by The Associated Press, shows a City Hall that had a reputation of resistance – even hostility – toward open government, the First Amendment and the public’s access to simple facts and figures.

He ran a government as closed as he could make it,” said attorney Floyd Abrams, a widely recognized First Amendment authority who faced off against city lawyers when Giuliani sought to shut the Brooklyn Museum of Art because the mayor considered a painting sacrilegious.

This is a scathing article and a must-read. It documents a man so controlling and paranoid that requests for benign public data having nothing to do with security (such as number of working water fountains in the city’s parks), required a formal request to the mayor’s office.

And he repeatedly battled other city agencies over access to information that ended up in court, with the city losing almost every case.

Advocacy and oversight groups long accustomed to easily obtaining information about city services and finances – the Citizens Budget Commission and the Women’s City Club among them – were required to file freedom of information requests for documents, often resulting in months of delays and added legal costs.

In a slap at Giuliani’s City Hall, a judge in one such case wrote bluntly, “The law provides for maximum access, not maximum withholding.

Attorney Eve Burton, who represented the New York Daily News during much of the Giuliani era, said the newspaper submitted more than 100 filings in six years related to information or access requests, appeals or lawsuits involving the administration. In one case, she said, the city refused to turn over the names of people who held gun permits – unquestionably public information – until threatened with a lawsuit.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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