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Bushwick Community Board Stops 'Illegally' Hiding Liquor License Info

By Meredith Hoffman | March 21, 2013 2:51pm

BUSHWICK — After years withholding liquor license applications and decisions from the public, Bushwick's Community Board 4 has finally ended the practice state officials called "illegal" and "ridiculous."

"We looked into it and it was factual that we had to disclose the information," said the board's chairwoman Julie Dent at a meeting this week. "We disclosed it today and we will continue to do so."

The change came after DNAinfo.com reported that the board was the only community board in the city to hide information about which establishments had applied for liquor licenses.

State officials said the practice violated the Freedom of Information Law and undermined the raison d'être of community boards.

"The purpose of the community board and of the Freedom of Information Law is to enable the public to know what the government is up to," Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, said in a prior interview. "And here the recalcitrance precludes people within a relatively small community from knowing what's going on."

While Bushwick Community Board 4 members last month insisted that they needed to withhold the information for "public safety" reasons, they let go of the argument at the March meeting and shifted their procedures.

"We are approachable," said district manager Nadine Whitted. "Thank you and we will make the adjustment."