GILMAN, IL. (ECWd) -
This article will cover three issues; Costs of complying with Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") requests, who asked us to send FOIA requests, and School Board Member Kyle Kraft's offensive comments.
CRAZY: The Watchdogs cost the school district $2977 in lost personnel hours to comply with FOIA requests.
Our FOIA requests asked for basic accounting items and could never had cost any public body anywhere close to $2977, unless the school district intended to inflate the cost so they could later complain to the public about how horrible it was that people were requesting public records. In the two FOIA requests sent prior to their comment, we requested 6 sets of receipts for specific expenses, a year's worth of credit card statements, and documents related to expenditures to "Metropolitan Opera" - if their record keeping is so poor as to require extensive personnel hours to comply with the requests, they have record-keeping problems, not FOIA problems.
Look at it this way, it would have taken almost 100 hours (2 and a half full work weeks) for a person making $30 per hour, to bring that cost up to $2977. It would take 2 people making $20 per hour almost an entire work week to cost $2977.
As was outlined during the last public meeting, there were no additional costs to produce the requested records. The game being played by the Superintendent is to attribute a workers time on FOIA and lead people to believe that this was an extra cost, all while failing to be honest about the fact those people got paid regardless of the job they were tasked with. Had we never asked for records, the school would have still provided the wages to those people which means there were no additional costs to the school as claimed by the Superintendent. You can view where we addressed this lie by the Superintendent during public comment in the video below.
FALSE: Bob Kramer told the Watchdogs to look into the finances of Iroquois West
The Gilman Star, a local newspaper published an article stating "He (Bob Kramer) even asked the Edgar County Watchdogs to come in and look at the unit's finances, suggesting there had to be some issues there.".
Superintendent Linda Dvorak said, according to the article, that "the fact that Kramer had called in the Edgar County people cost the district $2977 in personnel hours just to reply to FOIA." We address the alleged costs above.
We had not discussed anything with Kramer prior to requesting public records. Kramer has never asked us to look into anything at the district. It was only after Kramer was falsely accused in the paper, and the crazy comments that our FOIAs cost $2977, that we communicated with Kramer about the issues at the school - he sent us the newspaper clipping with those comments in it.
Our request for a retraction of this lie by the Superintendent has gone unanswered.
OFFENSIVE & CONDESCENDING: School Board Member Kyle Kraft
When Kirk Allen questioned the board, during public comment about the location of the meeting agenda at the building in which the meeting was held, board member Kraft's response was to ask Allen "do you want me to hold your hand and take you there" (to where the agenda was posted). He asking Allen that question twice and was unable to answer a basic question regarding the agenda's availability to be viewed from outside the building. That interaction can be viewed in the video below.
One thing we always find when we first show up to a meeting of a public body is how people are treated. How people are treated generally correlates to how secretive the public body is, and how much we need to look at.
Board member Kraft's comments were childish, offensive, and condescending. He also happens to have been unable to produce his required Open Meetings Act training certificate. That training would have educated him on posting requirements of agendas.
We believe both board member Kraft and Superintendent Dvorak should issue an apology for their comments.