Algonquin Township

Algonquin Township Clerk violates FOIA- plays games with requests. UPDATED!

McHenry Co. (ECWd) –

First, we heard claims from the Township Clerk Karen Lukasik that Bob Miller, former Highway Commissioner, did nothing illegal.  That claim led to this article that appears to clearly dispute the clerk’s claim. Then we published several more found at this link.

As the Clerk took to Facebook to thank her supporters and the local paper, she made another interesting statement that we simply can’t ignore.

“Let me do the job the public elected me to do and stop these silly immature political games all at the expense of the tax payers.”

Now on the surface, that statement sounds great, however, in practice, she is not doing her job, and is apparently the one actually playing silly immature political games. As the appointed Freedom of Information Officer, she has an obligation to produce public records to those requesting them and do so in a timely manner.

I currently have four FOIA requests that are well past due and in one case it appears the Clerk either can’t comprehend a simple request or is purposely playing silly immature political games.

Who does not comprehend this request?

A complete copy of the Verizon phone records for account 786471402-00001 since January 1, 2016. The February-March of 2016 billing reflects the total for that billing cycle was $945.68″

Note that I asked for specific phone records by account number since January 1, 2016.  The additional information after that request was nothing more than information provided to assist in identifying records I knew of during the requested dates I was seeking.  I was not seeking any phone record with a specific date or amount.  I wanted phone records since January 1, 2016, and even provided the account number.

The response from the Clerk:

“I searched for a Verizon bill totaling that amount and was not able to locate it within those dates.”

I did not ask for a record with a specific total within any dates.  That fact she could not locate one phone record does not exclude her primary duty to provide the requested records asked for. The excuse she provided points to a bigger problem for Algonquin Township taxpayers and possible former elected officials.  Where are the records?

Record concealment or destruction without permission from the Downstate Local Records Commission is considered a felony crime.  How is it that I am able to produce part of the record yet she is not?

What did she say on her Facebook post? 

“Let me do the job the public elected me to do and stop these silly immature political games all at the expense of the tax payers.”

Need another example of playing games? 

What is an Elected Official? Seriously, define it before reading on.

An elected official is a legal term and applies to a person holding an elected position in a unit of government. Pretty simple right?

So was my request:

“A copy of the Open Meetings Act Training Certificates for all Alonguin Township elected officials.”

My request only applies to elected township officials.  A person who holds an elected position in the past but is no longer holding the elected office is not an elected official.  They are a private citizen, thus no need to concern yourself with past elected officials as they clearly are not elected officials at the time of my request.

The response from the Clerk:

“Please be more specific on which elected officials you would like training for.  For example,  present or all past and present.”

First, she asks me to be more specific on which elected officials I was wanting records for, so let’s address that first.  See my request above and tell me if you can figure outwhich elected officials I was seeking records for.  Note the word “all” in my request.

Second, she provides an example that frankly tells me she is either playing games or has no clue what an elected official is.  In her Facebook rants about herself, she stated she went back to school to get her Masters in Public Administration. She does not state she achieved the Masters, although she does confirm she is a teacher, which means she is educated.

Why ask which elected officials I was seeking records for when I clearly asked for those records for all the elected officials?  An educated person should be able to figure that out unless of course, they are playing games.

We lean towards games being played as the response was well past due the allowed time under FOIA, was not a proper response, failed to provide the specifically requested records either in part or entirety, and failed to include specific mandated information in the response.

For those that want to jump to her defense, understand pointing out she is playing games is a better position for her to be in as the only other option under these circumstances would be incompetent to perform the duties.

This was my response to her games:

Unlike other FOIA requesters you may have dealt with, I do not play games nor mess with AG complaints except for the truly questionable responses, of which yours are not.  We simply file lawsuits.

This FOIA request, and others, are past due which means you have violated FOIA.  I will provide one response to this communication so that there is no confusion.

  1. I did not ask for you to locate a bill totaling an amount within a specific date.    I requested a copy of Verizon phone records for account 786471402-00001 since January 1, 2016. 
  2. All elected Algonquin Township Officials.  There is no confusion as to what that means.  Each elected position in the Algonquin Township makes those people Elected Officials.  Past elected people are no longer Officials of the Township, thus they are not elected officials of Algonquin Township. 

The Clerk is past due on other FOIA requests and we urge compliance as the public has a right to know and making excuses to withhold and or conceal records is not going to work out very well for those responsible.

So who is actually partaking in silly immature political games at the expense of the taxpayer? 

The FOIA officer, or the public seeking public records?

Nov 13 FOIA 10-38am

 

UPDATED:  The clerk contacted me today and provided the following statement that would pertain to the above article.

“I am certainly not playing games at all. I misunderstood your request on the FOIA originally.  I thought you only wanted certain dates as you asked for several dates so I became confused.  I am going in to the township today to search further for what you have asked for.”

.
 

8 replies »

  1. I give her the benefit of the doubt. I am also educated (B.S.,, MBA) and wasn’t 100% sure of the request. By providing more information than was necessary only confused the request in my mind.

    • So if your not sure, contact the requester in advance of the deadline for compliance to get clarification. You don’t wait until well after the deadline. Additionally, as it relates to the phone records, she did not seek any clarification. She simply said she did not have records with the amount and date I included. So during the total time frame of records requested, I now only know that one billing cycle is not in their possession and she ignored the rest of the request.

      I am beginning to think our education system has failed us worse than I thought.

      • Additionally, as it relates to the phone records, she did not seek any clarification. She simply said she did not have records with the amount and date I included. So during the total time frame of records requested, I now only know that one billing cycle is not in their possession

        Objection!

        It seems like all you know about the requested phone records is that allegedly(!) you requested certain records (- see the quote AND LINK above) and that in partial response the clerk stated the following:

        “I searched for a Verizon bill totaling that amount and was not able to locate it within those dates.”

        There are lots of other possible further explanations to be made for “not finding and/or not producing the requested phone records.I know the difference between low quality BS and high quality BS, AND I’m smart enough to avoid suggesting additional possible excuses for non compliance with the request. Maybe the records just got misplaced somehow.

        I won’t be at all surprised if some additional excuses and or explanations are made, and that in the end you still won’t have the requested records. In any case, this episode of “Who bought WHAT?!” has been continued until the next episode!

  2. Don’t be picking on my cuzzin!

    She’s working as hard as she knows how to!

    Also many people know how complicated the English language can be. “All” can mean all sorts of things.

    I bet you will get you some of what you want in the next few months. If there’s anything more likely to be embarrassing then that might take a little longer.

  3. “She does not state she achieved the Masters, although she does confirm she is a teacher, which means she is educated.”

    I have it on presidential authority the above claim, “…which means she is educated.”, is wrong.

    “Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.”

    Complete quote:

    “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
    ― Calvin Coolidge

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