Mayor Warren slams Barnhart over FOIL requests

Mayor Warren slams Barnhart over FOIL requests


By Spectrum News Staff


ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The city of Rochester is giving community members easier access of public records.

City officials say a fully searchable “reading room” was created to allow anyone to access public documents via request. They say a new button on the website directs users to the reading room and allows for faster access to documents.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says this enhancement of the city’s Freedom of Information Law process will help bring more transparency to government.

After announcing those changes, Mayor Warren used social media to express concerns about a political opponent she says is abusing the FOIL system.

In a lengthy Facebook post, the mayor called out Rachel Barnhart, saying the former mayoral candidate has “flooded the city with between 100 and 200 frivolous information requests.”

According to Warren, Barnhart apparently called and harassed local businesses, churches and citizens during the campaign to ask about their relationship with the Mayor, going so far as to say Barnhart followed people she thought the mayor might be close with.

Warren concluded her post by saying Barnhart is, “using a process designed for open government to continue her politically motivated games.” She continued, “I am troubled that this behavior seems to be moving from a nasty political campaign to something far more personal.”

Late Thursday night Barnhart responded to those statements, calling it an “orchestrated attack on [her] character and frame of mind.”

Barnhart confirmed that she has filed about 150 information requests on the deputy mayor’s schedule records, city checkbook registries and a prospective project in the city, but she calls it routine — something she’s done for years as a journalist.

Barnhart also clarified she’s contacted a few city businesses to confirm if money they received from the city was grant money or expenditures, and has never contacted any churches.

This all comes just a few days after Barnhart called for an ethics investigation of Deputy Mayor Cedric Alexander, due to what she says is business conflicts and being elsewhere on city time.

Barnhart calls the Mayor’s post “unprecidented rhetoric” from the head of a major city, saying in part, “By going after my credibility and integrity she is sending an ominous message to anyone who dares to question her administration.”