Will Co. (ECWd) -
When public bodies provide a cryptic response to a Freedom of Information Act request that has nothing to do with the actual request, we have found there is always a reason and more often than not it's not good.
I requested the following.
"A copy of the General Assistance recipient roster from
Maine DuPage Township of the persons who have registered for work as outlined in Article VI of the public aid act."
The response from DuPage Township:
"DuPage Township does not have anyone currently receiving GA benefits."
I did not ask if they had anyone "currently" receiving GA benefits. I asked for the required Roster. That roster has nothing to do with who is or is not currently on GA. Anyone that has ever read the obligations under General Assitance would know they have such an obligation.
305 ILCS 5/6-1.7 - "A recipient of financial aid under this Article, which money or vendor payment is made by a local governmental unit which administers aid under this Article and is not a County Department, who is required under Section 6-1.4 to register for and accept bona fide offers of employment as provided in Section 11-20 but is not required to participate in a job search, training and work program under Section 9-6, must also register for work with such local governmental unit and must perform work without compensation for a taxing district or private not-for-profit organization as provided in this Section.
"A local governmental unit which administers aid under this Article shall maintain a roster of the persons who have registered for work in such local governmental unit, and shall assure that such roster is available for the inspection of the governing authorities of all taxing districts or private not-for-profit organizations, or the duly authorized agents thereof, for the selection of possible workers. Each such local governmental unit shall cause persons, who are selected by a taxing district or private not-for-profit organization to perform work, to be notified at least 24 hours in advance of the time the work is to begin."
Their response is a typical cryptic reply for public bodies that realize the FOIA request points to obligations they are supposed to be complying with and we are betting they have not complied with.
Using the word "currently" is a cute way to avoid the FOIA but it won't work. I have yet to get a response to my follows up email on this matter which tells me they rather resolve this in court than simply address the failure.
General Assistance is the most commonly abused fund we have seen. The Township Supervisor has sole authority over it and more often than not they tend to blow smoke when someone questions them about misspending from that fund, which is supposed to be Public Aid. DuPage Township Supervisor Mayer is doing just that, blowing smoke.
In another interesting step that we predicted after the last Township meeting is a change to the public comment policy. The agenda for tomorrow's meeting now has a discussion and possible action on an "Ordinance Establishing Rules Regarding Public Participation At Township Meetings"
Additionally, they have taken the comments or questions from the press off the agenda. I guess my questions ruffled some feathers, as they should.
This is always the first step bad actors take when they get called out for malfeasance, silence the messenger by limiting their public comment time.
When public officials take steps to silence those who criticize their performance and hold them accountable it is time for the deep dive into their financials to expose what they so desperately are refusing to provide.
If they adopt their ordinance on the public comment they can add themselves to a long list of public bodies that suppress the people's voice after being exposed for malfeasance.
As I said during the last meeting, Supervisor Mayer should resign as his problems are only going to get worse as more is exposed.