City of Carlinville

Newspaper talks about “sneaky and cowardly” FOIA requesters –

CARLINVILLE, IL. (ECWd) –

It is beyond us why any purported newspaper would ever defend a public body who made it a pattern and practice to improperly deny requests for public records, vote in public session to provide said requested records, never provide them after a unanimous vote to provide them, and lie about it over and over again.

But, that is what the Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat appears to be doing.

After the City of Carlinville started improperly denying FOIA requests, the MCED started printing all of the FOIA request to the city. Nothing wrong with that if that is what they want to fill their pages with.

They went on to publish an editorial to support what they are writing about, but took it a step or two further by claiming that people who “hide behind the name of a group to avoid having their name become part of the public record is their choice” and then stating “however sneaky or cowardly it may seem.”

Is it any more “sneaky or cowardly” to publish articles without naming the writers?

For the record, this article was not about us.

There are several reasons people do not provide their names when requesting public records – to avoid intimidation by public officials, intimidation by the press, their own job security, or simply because they choose not to. It is their right to submit an anonymous FOIA request, it is the city’s duty to answer it properly.

Let’s face it, if a public official summoned the Police Department to your home and workplace because you were exercising your First Amendment right by posting articles critical of local governments on your own Facebook page, how could a citizen feel comfortable asking for incriminating public records?

We have hit-pieces written about us all the time (here, here, and many more) which is why we know how local media can sometimes be too quick to jump on the public official’s bandwagon, and believe everything they are told without any attempt at verification.

The MCED then talks about FOIA being used as a “weapon to badger and overwhelm a FOIA officer” – I fail to see how this is even mentioned, since when the city was fielding several requests per week they never answered them – or they claimed it would take more than 21 days to produce 7 pieces of paper that they already had. How is that overwhelming? I filed several lawsuits to force the city to provide the records, I would have preferred to have had the records months ago without filing suit. But they bought the bad advice from their attorney and the residents will pay the price.

We know of at least one anonymous FOIA request to the City of Carlinville that is still unanswered, with a lawsuit being filed in the next week or so to force the city to provide the records. We know of another FOIA lawsuit against the city that we haven’t reported on yet because we are trying to get file-stamped copies of the suit – but we know it is filed since it is in Judici.com.

In closing, their article appeared to be more of a whining statement about the actual FOIA requesters, than the statutory right to file a request for public records, and to do so without intimidation by the public officials you filed the request with or about. The legislature provided for relief from burdensome and frequent requests within the law, but they also defined burdensome and frequent. So far, the requests sent to the city have not met that definition.
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12 replies »

  1. I have one word for their news article: propaganda. Sadly, it’s the same thing the Nazi’s did to try and control the people.

  2. Speaking of Judici…interestingly enough, they would not allow anonymous VPN access until very recently. It seemed strange to me that they would not allow an anonymous connection when FOIA allows anonymous requests. Does anyone know who owns Judici?

  3. Corruption is Government starts at the Local Level. That is where the Citizens MUST get involved and stop it before it expands.

  4. Newspapers: I once thought newspapers — printed the news & were unbias – I have learned that if they are for a particular project or have gotten their side chosen – you don’t get press, you don’t get your side of the story printed – even if you write a letter to the editor that has the facts — if they feel it puts the public body in a bad light they will not print it.

    • Macoupin County is very corrupt. In fact, it’s long been knowledge that you should just keep your mouth shut. I grew up being told to keep my mouth shut. Apparently when you open it, they find a way to publicly shame you nowadays with trumped up charges. They put you in their police blotter and Judici, so everyone can go have a look and point their fingers at you.

  5. This is interesting – it didn’t know you didn’t have to provide your name if requesting for a group or organization. In my county – a different than mentioned – a friend used her name when foia request for organization – rec’d a call from the foia officer – what do you want it for, he was busy on & on – she got upset said call “x”. Which he promptly did and read Me “x” the riot act, why do you want it, I’m busy, on & on. At which point I said fine – just put your reasons for refusing in writing.
    It was then — well, you’ll have to file another foia request – since “I” “x” was requesting it for the organization.
    These things go on & on.

  6. This is nothing new. Look at how the Marshall Advocate printed articles complaining about the high cost of answering FOIAs submitter to CC Park Board. The newspaper took sides supporting covering up wrong doing.

  7. The humor is starting to come through-this is the two year-old who smeared finger paint all over the walls and stands in front of the green, blue, yellow, red, thickly covered background, slathered all over their face, arms, clothes, even the dog, and says, “I didn’t do it”. The newspaper does not have writers, editors or overseers with an adequate IQ to recognize they are recognized. In a certain POV, they are pitiable, if not laughable. However, when they only have democrats left in the state, none will be able to afford a newspaper. There won’t be $$ for welfare, for abortions, for gub salaries or medical care or pensions. And this eventuality is going to be sooner, not later. As the latest news the week of August 28, 2017, the first I heard of a truthful broadcast report is ‘property taxes will be increased 50% to pay for pensions’. This will remain the Land of Leavin’, as the conservatives are the refugees escaping a Banana Republic of sanctuary Illinois. It’s the dems who will remain. I hope.

  8. The name of this alleged newspaper, Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat, provides the answer to your question in the first sentence of this article.

  9. This is why I’m working my way out of this state. Corruption has run rampant for so long. I’m beginning to think there is not one locality that is honest. Keep it up ECW – there’s a lot of us who did not know where to turn before.

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