McHenry Co. (ECWd) -
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the mechanism for citizens to obtain public records.
The Algonquin Township Clerk, Karen Lukasik has once again shown the public she has issues which might be best dealt with before attempting to be a "public servant".
Last week I submitted an FOIA request for two sets of public records. One applied to both the Township and Road District, the other only the Township.
- A copy of all Tax Objection Settlements the Township and The Road District has entered into in the last 10 years.
- A copy of all Credit Card Statements for credit accounts being used by the Township Supervisor since May 15, 2017.
The request for the tax objection settlements has now triggered allegations by Lukasik that threats are being made by the Road District Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser.
"Please refrain from making threats against me. This is the fourth threat that I have on record from you."
The email that triggered the response:
You are the keeper of those records. If you have them I am asking you turn them over to me under the law.
If you do not do your job I will immediately file an order to compel you to do your job.
Do you have these records?
Informing your own Clerk of Road District records that failure to do her job will result in the filing of an order to compel her to do the job sounds more like a promise than a threat.
Our promise, if a proper response and production of records are not followed we will file yet another FOIA suit in the Circuit Court. So there is no confusion, this is a promise, not a threat.
Lukasik is quick to instruct Gasser on FOIA and even points to him being confused.
Let's clarify the confusion.
Gassser informed his Records Clerk, Lukasik, "I do not have any tax objection statements in my office. Would you please confirm you are looking for these?"
He asked a simple question, would you "please" confirm you are looking for these?
The response paints a picture of where the real problem lies.
Lukasik: "If you do not have any you will need to respond to the FOIA. You are a FOIA Officer"
An FOIA officer is to take steps to obtain the records requested, as Gasser did in this case. The FOIA officer should not respond that they do not have the records until they confirm, in this case, with their Clerk of the Records, that they do not exist. The fact Gasser does not have them does not mean he should respond with that position without first confirming the Clerk of his Records has confirmed they are not in their possession.
Reading the exchange from Lukasik it is clear she is playing a childish game and doing nothing more than creating more controversy. The title Drama Queen may be appropriate.
There is nothing out of line for a head of a public body asking if the keeper of the records is looking for the requested documents. One with any knowledge of FOIA would know you ensure such a search for records was completed before answering the FOIA. Lukasik clearly lacks that knowledge.
It was not until a later exchange that she states she does not have any of the records requested. That is troubling as she is, by law, the keeper of the records. A position which she took court action to ensure the world knew, she is in control of ALL records in the Township and Road District.
If the Clerk does not have those records may we suggest this educator of children take some initiative and ask the attorney if he has those records? We understand that James Kelly, the Township Attorney, was the one that handled those tax objection cases and one would think he would have a copy of those settlements.
You can view the entire email exchange at this link or view below.