McHenry Co. (ECWd) –
As we said in this article, we agreed with the State’s Attorney report citing this Township has plainly set forth spending and decision-making that do more than merely create an appearance of incompetence, guile, and impropriety.
The Algonquin Township Clerk makes that case with her email telling people she has resigned as the FOIA officer for the Township. Let’s stop there.
The Algonquin Township is a Public Body. What does the law say about that public bodies obligation as it relates to the Freedom of Information Act and FOIA officers?
(5 ILCS 140/3.5) Sec. 3.5. Freedom of Information officers.
(a) Each public body shall designate one or more officials or employees to act as its Freedom of Information officer or officers.
In June of 2017, the Township Board complied with the law and appointed Karen Lukasik as the Township FOIA Officer. She is an elected Official of the Township, as well as an employee of the Township. All indications point to this appointment being well within the powers of the Board.
What authority does she have to resign from a duty assigned to her by the governing board of this public body? Is she refusing to perform the duties? Is being an FOIA officer a mandatory duty? If it is, Official Misconduct comes to mind.
The position of Clerk has designated duties by statute, which are specific. Nowhere in the Township code does it mandate she is to be the FOIA officer, so the question of mandatory duty under the Township Code would indicate it is not a duty of the Clerk. However, all the laws must be read and applied harmoniously.
“Rather, the specific and general provisions can be read in pari materia and given harmonious effect by applying the specific provision only in instances in which there is a conflict of interest..”(Illinois Second Appellate District 2012)
We believe in this case, there is no conflict with the statutes and when applied together, it is both logical and perfectly legal for the Township Board to assign FOIA duties to the Clerk, who by law is the keeper of the records for both the Township and the Road District. Being an FOIA officer has mandatory duties. By resigning it would appear she is refusing to perform a mandatory duty assigned to her under the legal powers of the Board of Trustees. Why is that not Official Misconduct as outlined in the Criminal Code?
The second part of her letter she announces that she wants to appoint Jack Barrett to be her Deputy Clerk. Maybe the story we ran back in April has sunk in. We pointed out she had no authority to contract with Mr. Barrett and cited the case law to support it. I suspect behind the scenes the attorneys have confirmed our position and advised her to do it right. We thank her for taking steps to follow the law. The next step is for the recovery of the funds paid to this contracted person as those payments are not valid when the law was not followed. Such recovery would come under the False Claims Act.
The fact they are fixing problems proves we were right, otherwise why change anything?
She closes out her letter by announcing to everyone that transparency is no longer a priority. She says she does not want the responsibility of video recording the meetings because it has opened up a media frenzy. Actually, we believe it has opened her up for public embarrassment with her rants during meetings.
We encourage local citizens to attend all of the Township Meetings and record them for all to see as it’s clear, the brief exposure to date has confirmed what the State’s Attorney reported, they are incompetent.Lukasik FOIA resignation letter