Assemblywoman Michele Titus
Assemblywoman
Michele Titus:
Working For You

Advocate for Government Reform
As the new Chair of the Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation, I have hit the ground continuing the work of the Assembly to ensure government is working in an efficient and transparent manner. Especially in these hard economic times, we need to ensure government is not wasting money.
Every year, dozens of new state-funded boards, task forces, advisory councils and commissions are created, and often little is heard about them until one makes the news for overspending or not fulfilling its mission. Therefore, the Oversight Committee examined the rules and functions of more than 100 statutorily authorized advisory boards, task forces and commissions to assess whether they are fulfilling Legislative intent.
As this review got underway, it became clear that a comprehensive inventory does not exist within any one office of state government, and that determining how much money they spend or whether they fulfill legislative intent could be accomplished only anecdotally.
Furthermore, based on the group the Committee examined, only about half offer information on-line — either on an independent website or through a state agency website — and public meetings are listed there for only about 30 percent. Also, only about 20 percent of the advisory bodies examined had line item budgets, making it difficult for a public citizen to review spending, per diems, or travel expenses.
This means that average citizens, perhaps interested in tourism or specific environmental or health issues would have to do some intensive investigatory work, first to learn whether an advisory board, committee or task force exists, and then to find contact information, meeting times and places, published reports or other products of the organization.
Therefore, the Committee drafted legislation (A.10052A) requiring the Department of State to keep an updated list of all such boards on their website with basic information about each, such as why they exist, when they meet, what products they have, and contact information, as well as links to their websites if they exist. Also, the Department of State would be required to keep on hand the boards’ funding information in case citizens want that, and information on how average citizens could apply to be on boards.
This information will be an important step in improving accountability and achieving the goal of a more open government, as well as provide information to oversight authorities when considering whether to dissolve or merge certain boards which will save the state money.
Providing Access to Justice
In the district, we were excited to work with the City University of New York School of Law -Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN) which provided free legal advice to community residents. As an attorney, it is my passion to ensure that the system that we have put in place works for the people it was intended to protect. Too often due to a complex legal system or costly representation many people do not pursue their legal remedies. Therefore I knew that it is important that my constituents seek and have access to legal assistance as soon as possible.
Community residents seeking assistance with immigration, elder law, foreclosure prevention, collections, home improvement contracts, Social Security Disability, evictions and fair hearing proceedings were able to sit down with an attorney and discuss their situation.
In the Assembly, access to civil legal services has long been a priority. As more families struggle through these economic times the demand for legal services increases. Our initiative of access
to justice and legal empowerment will allow families to stay together and ensure justice for all!

Assemblywoman Michele Titus
Assemblywoman Michele Titus
19-31 Mott Avenue, Room 301
Far Rockaway, NY 11691 • 718-327-1845
131-17 Rockaway Boulevard
South Ozone Park, NY 11420 • 718-322-4958
Room 741 LOB
Albany, New York 12248 • 518-455-5668
titusm@assembly.state.ny.us