We have an important update on the ongoing saga to unravel what happened in the furtive and mysteriously quick removal of the statue.
Robert LoScalzo, an independent investigative/documentary media producer, Queens resident, and supporter of triumphofcivicvirtue.org, filed a bombshell Article 78 petition in New York State Supreme Court against the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and separately against its commissioner, Edna Wells Handy.
The petition (PDF 340KB) alleges that the agency acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and/or failed to do its duty altogether in handling the Freedom of Information Law request, which was for all communications that took place between DCAS, other city agencies, the Green-Wood cemetery, and contractor firms pertaining to relocation plans for the statue.
Having consulted with LoScalzo as he prepared the petition, triumphofcivicvirtue.org stands by his allegations and demands in the suit, and shares his belief that e-mails and possibly other documents have been improperly withheld.
Although some records were trickled out haphazardly prior in appealing DCAS’ non-response to LoScalzo’s FOIL request as we documented, the agency drew a line in the sand, and claimed its communications with the cemetery or contractors are exempt from disclosure.
LoScalzo however, won a powerful ally to his cause. The NY State Committee on Open Government, which oversees FOIL, rendered for him an advisory statement (PDF 88KB) supporting his contention that the records DCAS denied had no right to be withheld.
There remain too many unanswered questions surrounding the city’s unpopular treatment of the statue, questions which triumphofcivicvirtue.org and LoScalzo are fairly certain can be answered once the e-mails, memos, faxes, or other communication documents are turned over, namely:
- Who in city government came up with the idea of removing the statue, with whom did they discuss the idea?
- Did someone at Green-Wood reach out to a member of city government, and to whom specifically?
- When and why was this idea of removing the statue hatched after it had been neglected for so long while under the city’s jurisdiction?
- How did the contractors who performed the armature construction and conservation know the agency was seeking relocation, and what were they told?
- How did Greenwood know to watch the Design Commission for the three days notice of the public hearing in order to have a presentation prepared?
The public’s right to know the truth must not be denied. We have faith that although the statue may temporarily reside in another borough, its spirit will prevail in Robert LoScalzo’s pursuit of truth and justice on behalf of the people of Queens.