NORTH HENDERSON, IL (ECWd) -
I think we have said this before but here it comes again. When a public body refuses to provide public records that they know they must provide, you can just about bet there is some type of actions they feel the need to hide from the public (see Arcola Township, FIPHD, or Edgar County Airport for examples).
A simple request for information, that included a request for the name and contact information of the Village attorney, was denied by the village FOIA officer. The reason given was that it was considered "private information" and they deemed it exempt from FOIA.
Really, private information? An attorney that the taxpayers are paying and the village refuses to provide his name? Now I am left to guess as to why they feel the need to keep secrets from the public.
I responded to their denial stating that private information was just that - private, but that business information was not private information when the public checkbook is tendering payments.
More emails followed and they finally stated that the attorney told them not to give his name out, so I asked them to clarify whether or not the attorney was advising them to break the law. I also informed the village that it was not the attorneys decision on whether or not to provide that information, that decision is on the village FOIA officer. No response to that question at this time.
The bottom line here is that anyone that is paid, contracted or otherwise, with public funds (excepting for police informants maybe) knows that their information is not private. The Illinois Constitution and Freedom Of Information Act both state that all records pertaining to the use of public funds are public records subject to inspection.
I find it simply amazing at how these people think that just because they don't want to give up the information, they don't have to. In the long run they will end up providing it, the only question left now is how much it will cost them. Of course there is always the quick and painless way: Provide the public records requested!
New Henderson has a population of around 187 people and is in Mercer County in northwestern Illinois.
More to follow as this story unfolds.