McHenry Co. (ECWd) -
A simple request for phone records from the Algonquin Township has yet to be fulfilled and the last response points to a complete failure of the current Township Clerk, Karen Lukasik. Additionally, the response points to the appearance of attempting to protect the former Highway Commissioner.
My request was made clear back on November 13, 2017. It was a simple request. I asked for all phone records for Verizon account number 786471402-00001 since January 1, 2016.
When the public seeks records, it is the public officials who are responsible for providing them or properly denying them. In the case of Clerk Lukasik, she has defaulted to the former Highway Commissioner for guidance.
"However, these records begin in January 1, 2016, so I will need to contact the prior highway commissioner to determine if the request must be redacted."
The previous Highway Commissioner has no say in what may or may not be redacted on the public records of a public body he is no longer a part of. The FOIA officer is responsible for making the determination, not an unelected citizen in the community.
The appearance of an attempt to protect or provide cover for the former Highway Commissioner is found in her response.
"If in fact this account belonged to the Road District, I will need to find out if these records contain personal information which would warrant an unnecessary invasion of privacy for the records from January 1, 2016 – May 15, 2017."
If in fact, the account belonged to the Road District?
I provided a copy of the bill that included the account number as well as the name on the account, which was Algonquin Township Road District. To question the ownership of the account was the first red flag as she knows it belongs to the Road District.
The second red flag, and I contend direct evidence of ulterior motive by this clerk is the claim in the second part of the response:
"I will need to find out if these records contain personal information which would warrant an unnecessary invasion of privacy for the records from January 1, 2016 – May 15, 2017."
The request was from January 1, 2016, through the date of the request, November 13th, 2017. Let's assume the records do contain information that qualifies as an exemption. Why would that exemption only apply through May 15, 2017? Why would it not apply to the timeframe between May 15th, 2017 and November 13th, 2017? Is it because former Highway Commissioner Bob Miller left office May 15th, 2017?
No matter what the reason, applicable exemptions should be applied to the entire time frame of the request, not just the time from when Bob Miller was the Highway Commissioner.
As noted above, the request was made November 13, 2017. Here we are almost an entire month later and we still do not have a proper response from the Clerk. The one person who is the custodian of all records and actually sued to drive that message home, yet she still has not provide a response to this FOIA.
More on all the other FOIA failures of this Clerk to come!