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July 20, 2024

Clark Co. Park District violates FOIA, prints over 4500 pages of records –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On May 24, 2015

Clark Co., IL. (ECWd) –

In one of the more disturbing claims coming out of the Clark County Park District Executive Director’s office, Charity Murphy has now claimed that even though I asked for electronic records, and even though the park district has the capability to electronically redact them, and they are stored electronically, that she can print 2257 pages, manually redact them, then copy the redacted pages – effectively printing the 2257 pages a second time – and make me pay $338.55 for the paper copies. The park district attorney agrees with her – even though the law clearly states otherwise.

The park district’s first response to me was that there was a large number of documents that needed to be copied and they estimated a $200.00 charge for the copies. What they failed to say was that they decided to print them from the electronic format they were kept in, in order to redact them – even though they possess the capability to electronically redact them.

The next response was that the records were ready to be picked up and the charge was $338.55 for 2257 pages.

I went to the park district office to look at the pages, and upon examining them discovered that they appeared to have been printed in order to be redacted. Murphy acknowledged this was what had occurred. She also acknowledged that the district had previously provided electronically redacted documents, but that she decided it was too time consuming in this case.

What happened, is the district printed 2257 pages, redacted those pages manually, then copied and printed all 2257 pages again. This used up 4514 pages of paper and all the ink it took to print all 4514 pages. At a minimum the district could have saved half of that printing by simply scanning the manually redacted pages into pdf electronic format and burned them to a disc. What they should have done, and what the law requires they do, is to provide them in electronic format since that is how they are kept by the public body.

This was nothing more than the director wanting me to pay out of my pocket for public records in an attempt at keeping me from asking for more of them, or at least placing a price on access to them.

You can read the request and email exchanges between the park district attorney and I – it includes the statutory language that the district violated and their feeble responses to me. Also keep in mind that these redactions are OPTIONAL – meaning the district is not mandated to redact them – they chose to.

This will result in a FOIA lawsuit that will get filed this coming week. You can thank your park district director for this added legal expense to the park district taxpayers. At least I tried to come to an agreement prior to filing suit.


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