Arcola Township

Arcola Township Denies Yet Another Public Records Request –

ARCOLA TOWNSHIP (ECWd) – It has become a habit of Arcola Township to refuse to provide public records requested through the Freedom Of Information Act. You can see the previous denials here.

When reading the Act, I cannot find anything in it that suggests it is optional. Rather, it provides for civil penalties of between $2500 and $5000 for each request, should a court find they knowingly, willfully, and in bad faith failed to comply with the FOI Act. Right now it looks like they are busy making that point easy to prove.

So here we go again, there is already a civil suit for two requests, a requests for review sent to the Illinois Attorney General for the third denied request, and I submitted another request for review to the AG for this 4th denied request. Please keep in mind that this will cost the taxpayers of Arcola Township, since they will most likely use the services of their handy dandy attorney to answer all of the questions coming from the Attorney General.

This 4th request, submitted to the township on July 30, 2013, was for the following public records:

  1. Copy of any and all paperwork (public records) that lists the Arcola Township Road Commissioner as a First Responder in his official capacity as the Arcola Township Road Commissioner.
  2. Copy of Arcola Township insurance policies that include vehicle coverage, and any Riders to the policy that include coverage for responding as a First Responder.
  3. Copy of any/all IRS Form 1099’s issued in 2012 and 2013 (for tax years 2011 and 2012).
  4. Copy of the “Board Packet” for the Arcola Township meeting held on July 29, 2013.

I find it hard to figure out what is so secretive about those records, unless they just think they are above the law and do not have to provide anything. If the later is the case, it’s time to open their eyes to what a requirement is.

One need to look no further than the first paragraph of the FOIA:

Sec. 1. Pursuant to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of government, it is declared to be the public policy of the State of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts and policies of those who represent them as public officials and public employees consistent with the terms of this Act. Such access is necessary to enable the people to fulfill their duties of discussing public issues fully and freely, making informed political judgments and monitoring government to ensure that it is being conducted in the public interest.
    The General Assembly hereby declares that it is the public policy of the State of Illinois that access by all persons to public records promotes the transparency and accountability of public bodies at all levels of government. It is a fundamental obligation of government to operate openly and provide public records as expediently and efficiently as possible in compliance with this Act.

and:

 Section 7 – (2) A public record that is not in the possession of a public body but is in the possession of a party with whom the agency has contracted to perform a governmental function on behalf of the public body, and that directly relates to the governmental function and is not otherwise exempt under this Act, shall be considered a public record of the public body, for purposes of this Act.

and (in the case of the township claiming they don’t keep receitps):

Sec. 2.5. Records of funds. All records relating to the obligation, receipt, and use of public funds of the State, units of local government, and school districts are public records subject to inspection and copying by the public.

and:

Section 2 - (c) "Public records" means all records, reports, forms, writings, letters, memoranda, books, papers, maps, photographs, microfilms, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data processing records, electronic communications, recorded information and all other documentary materials pertaining to the transaction of public business, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been prepared by or for, or having been or being used by, received by, in the possession of, or under the control of any public body.

Please note the use of past and present tense in the Act. So, whether they keep receipts or not, the receipts were (Sections 2(c)) prepared for, used by, received by, and at one point in the possession of the public body (or the person using the credit card representing that body). If they claim they don’t keep them, then Section 7 (2) applies and they SHALL be considered a public record of the public body (and therefore that public body must go get a copy when requested).

The lame excuse of “we don’t keep receipts” is not a legitimate excuse, and any accountant worth anything would flag that as an item that needs kept – which makes me wonder if the all of the past audits are worthless or not, since there is no way to determine what is purchased, or who purchased it, if the public body doesn’t keep receipts.

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11 replies »

  1. Cacus Krasher,your post about the recruiting is more correct than you may know.There are signed and documented papers showing the Twp. secretary called from the office asking for support at the cacus.I believe that’s violation of the voting laws.

  2. Dee Wayne,your 300 voters is a little low,thats more inline with the number called from the Twp.recruiting office before cacus.Now as for who to blame,the field seem’s to be getting smaller.The Twp.supervisor has informed us about the gas card’s,I wonder what else the Watchdogs have found.

  3. Now we have 4 foias not being answered one of them just asks for 1099’s, are you kidding me what could you have to hide there and the minutes to an open meeting really. what do you think your 300 voters are thinking of you now. Who are you going to blame this one on. Some of your 300 voters are waiting for your answer

  4. It is becoming eaiser to understand why these guys wanted to cook the cacus.For the good of the people?Yeah right! With a change in the board might come some questions and loss of control in their little empire.Well thanks to the Watchdogs,it appears the empire may be starting to crumble.Mr.Petty may want to dust off the old law books,because that aw shucks attitude of “There’s nothing to see here”,won’t play in Springfield.Hey Central Precinct Comm.what do you think of all those New Mandated state laws now.You know the ones nobody used.

  5. I wonder, how many years are they looking at spending in the county jail? They STOLE tax dollars and now are trying to cover their tracks! I hope that they throw the book at all of them!

  6. They weren’t satisfied with a lawsuit at the county level,so through there arrogance and holier than thou attitude we now have the attention of the AG!Well Mr. Knowles you may want to find a better shirt and sit up straight,Springfield will expect better.So should the taxpayers of Arcola.PATHETIC!

  7. In the picture above it looks as though the three at the big table are getting ready to hand you some papers but by what you tell us above, the Supreme Ruler did not give her permission to do that. Will they have that same look when the Attorney General visits or will the AG not be buzzed in. Are some taxing bodies above the law because the one holding the papers did put in print in our local paper that he would be intimidated by no one. Did the supreme ruler at her little desk have anything to add to the open meeting?