The other day, I got in the mood to FOIL something.
FOIL — the Freedom of Information Law — allows nosy journalists like me, and even nosy average folks like you, to demand certain documents from our state government.
I asked the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to provide documents that outlined how much it cost to keep the parks open for an extra two hours during a heat wave in July (an idea from Sen. Patty Ritchie that Gov. Andrew Cuomo embraced).
There could be cost associated with having lifeguards or other staff on duty longer, for example. Was there?
The response: Iunno.
The agency "has no existing records that would be responsive to your request," wrote Petra M. Larsen, the records access officer.
A spokesman for the Parks Department followed up with me and said much of the same thing. They simply didn't keep track of it.
Tom Precious at the Buffalo News ran into similar problems when trying to get state agencies to tell him exactly how they were going to cut 10 percent from operating expenses. That example, of course, was bigger.
But in these tough economic times, when every penny needs to be pinched (a common refrain from Mr. Cuomo and Mrs. Ritchie alike), we should at least have some idea of how much these parks perks cost. Unfortunately, we don't.