Will Co. (ECWd) -
Once again it appears we get to play the "hide the records and information" game in Will County and DuPage Township.
A simple Freedom of Information Act request was presented to the Will County State's Attorney's office for communications it had with the DuPage Township.
"A copy of all communications sent to DuPage Township unit of government and any of its personnel in the last 60 days."
Response from the State's Attorney Office:
"Your request is denied as I have been unable to locate any responsive documents."
Unable to locate any responsive documents?
What most people fail to understand is that more often than not, when we ask for a public record, we already know it exists and in many cases already have a copy of it. In this case, we knew a record existed and we knew it was recieved by the Township, and we knew it came from the State's Attorney's office. The indicator that this is a game being played is in the response. "unable to locate any responsive documents". Note they did not say it does not exist, it just states they can't find it.
Would the same request to DuPage Township result in a similar game?
"A copy of all communications received from the Will County State’s Attorney’s office in the last 70 days. This would include emails, texts, letters, either mailed or faxed."
DuPage Township Response:
"Attached you will find the responsive document."
Yep, attached was, in fact, a letter from the State's Attorney's office, however, it appears redactions were made to the document and done so with whiteout rather than the standard blacking out of exempt information. Of interest is the noncompliant response to my FOIA as they cited no exemptions, made no referenced to redactions, nor provided any legal recourse I have as required under FOIA when such exemptions are invoked. Oh, wait, they did not invoke any exemptions in the original response?
It was clear information had been covered up!
"Did you redact any part of the communication from the State's attorney?"
The response from DuPage Township confirms that the initial response was not compliant with FOIA and I suspect they were simply hoping I would not notice they redacted a case number for a court case that the Township was involved in. A case that we believe was not disclosed to the Trustees.
“Section 7(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140/1 et seq.) (FOIA) provides that “private information” is exempt from disclosure. “ In addition, Section 7(1)(c) of FOIA provides that “personal information” is exempt from disclosure.
We have, pursuant to these exemptions redacted the defendant's information from the document produced.
The person responsible for the decision to deny a portion of your FOIA request is the Townships’ Freedom of Information Officer, Amy Albright. In accordance with Section 9(a) of FOIA, you are hereby notified that you have the right to file a Request for Review regarding the decision made by the Township with the Public Access Counselor at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. You can file your Request for Review with the Public Access Counselor by writing to:
Sarah Pratt, Public Access Counselor
Office of the Attorney General
500 S. 2nd Street
Springfield, IL 62706
Email: [email protected]
You are also notified that you have the right to judicial review regarding the decision made by the Township pursuant of Section 11 of FOIA.”
DuPage Township Human Resource Coordinator
241 Canterbury Lane
Bolingbrook, IL 60440
As you can see by viewing the document at this link or below, it is a case of the People v. someone? The people of this state have a right to know who this case is against and the people of this state have a right to know the case number as those items are clearly not exempt. Anyone walking into the circuit clerk could look this matter up and the docket would clearly show the case number and the litigants involved. Why does DuPage Township want to hide that information?
More troubling is the games that surrounded this ONE document.
- A State's Attorney's office who sends it September 6, 2018, and claims they can't find any record of it?
- A township that uses white-out to redact information so the recipient won't see that redactions even took place?
- A township that makes no mention of any redactions until getting called out, and then provides the statutorily mandated justifications, even though they do not apply and should have been included in the first response but were not.
- I could find no record in the minutes pertaining to this legal matter that requires the attendance of the Township Human Resource person.
We have demanded the unredacted copy from the State's Attorney office and will be taking appropriate legal action against the Township for their improper exemptions and response to the FOIA.
It will be most interesting to hear what the Board of Trustees knows about this legal case, which we believe is nothing. If they have not been made aware of it the big question becomes why have they been kept in the dark?