McHenry Co. (ECWd)-
On November 23rd, 2017, I sent a follow-up email to Karen Lukasik after her clear attempt at denying production of phone records. I made my point very clear.
"Unlike other FOIA requesters you may have dealt with, I do not play games nor mess with AG complaints except for the truly questionable responses, of which yours are not. We simply file lawsuits."
Now that we did exactly what we said we would do six months ago, the local press reports: "The latest legal barb comes from the Edgar County Watchdogs...". Considering we were never contacted for any comment on the matter it comes across as a hit against us.
The latest "legal barb" comes from the Algonquin Township Clerk not doing her job, not us. We warned her we do not play games and would file a lawsuit if she continued to play games with her responses that included misrepresentations, excuses, and outright ignoring of our requests. Had we been asked, the public could have been informed of this fact in the original story.
Now that we have done exactly what we told her we would do, she makes this statement, and of course, the press reported it without a single question to us.
"This is just another political vendetta, which is wasting taxpayer dollars, and for what? What do the Edgar County Watchdogs have to do with Algonquin Township, and are they paying for this suit? I'd like to know who they have colluded with on the inside to file this," Lukasik said in a text message. "Quite frankly, this silliness needs to stop. Threats of lawsuits every other day, and it doesn't seem to be ending."
Political vendetta? How on earth this is a vendetta is beyond me as we don't have any ties to Alqonquin Township in any fashion. I can only wonder who this claimed vendetta is against? What we do know, this montre of "political vendetta" has been the drumbeat ever since the malfeasance from the past Road District administration was exposed. The political infighting appears to be caused by nothing short of the elected officials who have either not done their job, not doing their job, or refuse to learn their job.
As a local government accountability non-profit, we have investigations going on all across the state. We have approximately ten lawsuits in this state currently involving everything from local government to our State Auditor General for violating FOIA. Those who know our work know we are not political with our work nor do we get involved in political infighting. We expose malfeasance and do our best to hold those responsible accountable.
Are we paying for this suit? Initially yes, however, thanks to the Clerk not doing her job and not providing the records as requested and in compliance with the law, it will be the taxpayers that pay for it as the law provides attorney fees to the prevailing party. One of our recent lawsuits with Clark County Park District cost us over $9,000.00 initially. The result, much like we expect in this case, the public body wrote a check after the appellate court ruled 3-0 in our favor. That is a message for those that missed it. Statewide, we don't have a lot of faith in the local court system as it is very political with ties to those very public bodies we are exposing. That tends to get rulings that are political rather than legal, thus our willingness to take things to the higher court.
Lukasik insinuates we have "colluded" with someone on the inside. This statement is an attempt at deflecting from the real problem. The Clerk did not comply with FOIA, nor did the Attorney responding to FOIAs in violation of the law. We have sued both the Township and the Road District so who on earth is it that she thinks we have colluded with and how on earth would that affect her failure at compliance? What we do know, we have not colluded with anyone on the inside or outside. We asked for certain records and the Clerk failed in her duties to respond in accordance with the law.
This silliness needs to stop? Compliance with providing public records is not silly in the eyes of the courts. This clerk took an oath to uphold the laws of this state and it's clear she has not done that.
What is silly, is how none of these facts get reported to the people. I did send this statement to the local reporter this morning. "If you have questions and want accurate reporting on our involvement, please provide any questions you have and we will respond in writing."
We suggest the Clerk get a mirror and take a hard look at it before blaming others for her own malfeasance.
Our other suggestion is that people take a hard look at what they are being fed from local media, as more often than not it is nothing but reporting what someone told them with very little, to no, fact-checking. That fact-checking is where you expose how ridiculous statements as Lukasik's really are. That is the real story!