Attorney General

Dekalb County Court Judge Finds Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Concealed Public Records –

DeKalb, IL. (ECWd) –

THIS IS A STORY ABOUT THE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY
AND A CONSPIRACY BY LAWYERS FOR THE STATE TO HIDE RECORDS

State of Illinois Healthcare and Family Services inked a deal worth over $190 million with Client Network Services Incorporated ( “CNSI” ) through an Intergovernmental Agreement with Michigan, shutting out vendors to provide Medicaid claims processing.  Sources are telling us that number is now over $300 Million but we have not been able to confirm that.   The deal will reduce the state headcount by almost 300 while offshoring the work to CNSI’s facility in India via a cloud solution.

Lots of controversy and interested individuals filed FOIA requests for emails and documents concerning this deal after we started exposing the transaction close to two years ago.  The list is a respectable one and includes National Review, Chicago Tribune, Belleville news democrat (BND) and an interested state representative, Dwight Kay, whom sits on the appropriations committee of Healthcare and Family Services and was shut out when he started to probe the no bid deal.   CNSI is not shy about their business and gave Bruce Rauner a hefty campaign donation alongside Representative Sara Figenholz whom sits on the HFS appropriations committee.

FOIA is important.  Without it you wouldn’t have:

1.       GPS in your car – as the maps are the result of a FOIA request to USGS

2.       Home Loans –  as the data necessary comes from County Tax Assessor FOIAs

3.       News– as much of the news is a result of a FOIA request to government agencies

The battle for transparency regarding the CNSI no bid deal began about 2 years ago when we began filing FOIA’s that later ended up in our winning a FOIA law suit against HFS for their refusal to produce records. Kirk Allen won that case pro se in Edgar County Circuit Court (HERE). In addition to our case, about 18 months ago Illinois State Representative Dwight Kay filed suit against Healthcare and Family Services as well.   At that time there were rumors that the FOIA officers and administration was conspiring to withhold documents from the press.

Whistleblowers were coming forward speaking of emails with instructions on how to search for FOIA in order to produce no results.   This would give the appearance of complying without releasing any information.   HFS was sued by multiple people in different jurisdictions and the Attorney general filed motions to dismiss the cases, to bar deposing witnesses and withhold documents from in camera review by the judge. (Faulty FOIA search instructions found here)

The names of the HFS FOIA officers were Kyong Lee and Kiran Mehta.

The waste of taxpayer money to keep the secret failed.

On December 8, 2015, Judge Brady in Dekalb County ordered the Attorney General to release the withheld document he reviewed in camera to Attorney Nicholas Cronauer of Sycamore IL.  The document contains instructions on how to evade FOIA and was drafted by Eppie Dietz, former data expert for the Office of Inspector General.  (See order here)

The search criteria used by HFS, now exposed, points to the reason we may have also not received all the appropriate documents in our original FOIA requests. Further review may lead to yet another suit against HFS based on this new information.

It is illegal to withhold documents from the public, but it takes a State’s Attorney to charge the individual and to date no State’s Attorney has stepped up to do what is right and stop the corruption.

Attorney Nicholas Cronauer is available for comment at (815) 895-8585.

ECWd notes that you can read our past articles on CNSI , the Michigan deal and others (HERE). The CNSI articles landed us and/or our research in national and international news and publications.

 [gview file=”https://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Meurer-v-IL-Dept-of-Healthcare-and-Family-Services-and-Felicia-Norwood.pdf”]

DeKalb_Courthouse (WinCE)

DeKalb County Courthouse

15 replies »

  1. FOIA is important. Without it you wouldn’t have:

    1. GPS in your car – as the maps are the result of a FOIA request to USGS

    2. Home Loans – as the data necessary comes from County Tax Assessor FOIAs

      • I made the comment saying those two points are wrong, but it didn’t show up (or give me any indication of a moderation queue). I then made the post again, but something seems to have happened with the entirety of what I said.

    • Mike, a simple google search reflects numerous FOIA requests have in fact lead to GPS maps for everything from your roads to trails in forests.

      If you dont think home loan data includes information from the local Assessor, go ask the assessor how often those folks ask for data.

      • The USGS and several third parties make the information you refer to publicly available, no FOIA requests required.

        Assessor information is publicly available data, no FOIA required.

        • Mike,

          You have barked up the wrong tree here. I am a computer forensic expert whom ran the largest computer forensics / EDiscovery lab in the US for the DOD, worked for NASA NRL in Geospatial and for Space and Warfare. I have testified in over 145 cases nationally and creds aside your statement is incorrect. I understand your perception of the issue may be skewed by the limited exposure, but rest assured this issue is alive and is a problem.

          As far as the county or township tax data, it is not available online for every county and surely not the demographic data that is needed for the automated loan approval system (rooms, sq footage, last paid taxes, lot size, single, multi family). Just call all of the Kankakee County Townships and if you can get the data, I am more than willing to pay you for it to avoid suing them for it.

          I am pasting below an one of 7 letters from Kankakee county townships regarding property tax data that is available in paper form, but not electronic (not available online)

          Pembroke Township Assessor
          Basu C.I.A.O.
          P.O. Box A
          Hopkins Park, IL 60944
          April 27, 2015

          Andrew Garrett
          E Discovery/Forensic Expert
          Garrett Discovery

          RE: Request for Certain Records Relating to Property Tax

          Dear Mr. Garrett:

          I received your correspondence concerning electronic property record cards, however, our office does not have an electronic records system. All of our records are hard-copy files. Also, we have no office workers so it would not be possible for me to personally copy all of my files.

          Sincerely,
          Basu, C.I.A.O.
          Pembroke Township Assessor
          (815)944-9252

          To further this discussion regarding the USGS….

          Geographic Information Systems are used to make decisions. GIS may, for instance, be used to place new roads or power lines, to build subway systems while avoiding existing underground utilities, to create a school or voting district, or to justify a conservation policy by forecasting environmental harm from planned land uses. Occasionally, legal conflicts develop over these decisions. Parents question school district boundaries; land owners dispute environmental policies; subway system builders might break utility lines marked incorrectly on a map generated with GIS. One or all parties in the conflict might then wish to bring data or analysis from a GIS into court as evidence in support of a case and this is when USGS sometimes withholds data. FOIA is the only method for obtaining the data without suing for it and is very important to our day to day lives. GIS data is necessary to create WMS servers to provide the public with weather maps on your local TV broadcasts. Companies that are in this business file FOIA’s often to obtain the data necessary.

          Didn’t mean to shut this down, but sunlight is always the best!

          • You obviously think very highly of yourself, Andy. Maybe it’s deserved, maybe it’s not.

            However, I will repeat my point that just because FOIA has been used in some situations to produce the information you’re after doesn’t mean that without FOIA these things wouldn’t exist. That’s what the article is attempting to portray and it’s simply false.

  2. FOIA is important. Without it you wouldn’t have:

    1. GPS in your car – as the maps are the result of a FOIA request to USGS

    2. Home Loans – as the data necessary comes from County Tax Assessor FOIAs

    Wrong and wrong.

    • I am sorry you are wrong Mike. Sage Information is the company the files FOIA for each county in Illinois and often files lawsuits to obtain this data so the banking industry can produce loans. My company often assists in this process as the data that needs obtained is in old mainframes or hard to query databases.

      Prior to my work with Sage I use to work at NASA with the Geospatial Intelligence DB group and yes the data not the generic map must be FOIA requested as the data available only only allows you to download parts of the dataset and not all of the data to run a wms server.

      Sorry to correct you but I couldn’t let the bad information that was probably googled stand.

      • Acquiring and aggregating the data to present in a common easy to machine digest format is not the same as it not being available at all outside of FOIA.

        You’re talking to an IT guy whose clients past and present include local government. It’s simply not that difficult to get that information from most counties. Some even have the data available for bulk download directly on their web site. It’s also very unlikely that any of this assessment data is kept in a mainframe. Hard to access database, most likely. God knows that Devnet, Sidwell, etc. aren’t great pieces of software, but it’s not as dire as you make it out to be.

        What mapping data are you looking for that isn’t available for download from the Census Bureau, USGS, etc. in shapefiles or similar formats.

        Because FOIA has been used doesn’t mean that FOIA has to be used. When you carry a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

    • FYI. Search on Google “sage information” +county +court +Illinois and you will see multiple lawsuits filed against counties for tax information. For instance many counties are still using paper!!!!

  3. Kiran Mehta and Kyong Lee need to be prosecuted. Hey State’s Attorney’s… sick and tired of the court not having the time to hear your case. Put a few FOIA officers to task so that the court isn’t burdened with corrupt FOIA practices. The other day I had a conversation with a FOIA officer and he said that it “was his job to protect the Director”. Serious!!!

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