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April 21, 2024

AG Issued Binding Opinion Against Dolton’s FOIA Failures –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On February 13, 2024

Dolton, Ill. (ECWd) –

On February 9, 2024, the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (“PAC”) issued a rare Binding Opinion directing the Village of Dolton to respond to FOIA requests.

On November 29, 2023, Investigative Reporter Andrew Schroedter, WGN-TV, asked the village of Dolton to provide copies of various public records, including those related to payments made to Tiffany Henyard, leases for Henyard’s village vehicle, and credit card statements.

After receiving no response from the village (it is routine for Dolton to not respond), he asked the AG’s PAC to review the FOIA denial and render an opinion.

The village refused to respond to the AG’s inquiry.

Therefore, it is the opinion of the Attorney General that the Village of Dolton has violated section 3(d) of FOIA by failing, within the statutory time for responding to Mr. Schroedter’s November 29, 2023, FOIA request, to provide copies of the requested records or to deny the request in writing in whole or in part. Accordingly, the Village is hereby directed to take immediate and appropriate action to comply with this opinion by providing Mr. Schroedter with copies of all records responsive to each part of the November 29, 2023 , request, subject only to permissible redactions, if any . . .

The AG’s Binding Opinion #24-002 is below:

24-002

 

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7 Comments
  • Waterman
    Posted at 10:52h, 13 February

    What’s the penalty for not providing the information? It looks like they can stall as long as they want in hopes that it will be forgotten

  • Dave
    Posted at 11:09h, 13 February

    Someone needs to go to jail for willfully disobeying the law

  • Dave
    Posted at 11:10h, 13 February

    When you hide public records, that speaks volumes

  • Brian K Anderson
    Posted at 08:45h, 14 February

    What is the purpose of a binding opinion? I have received favorable findings through several RFRs, none of them state they are a “binding opinion”. Basically they are all slaps on the wrist, no true penalty or consequence. Maybe the AG should attach monetary fines for violations of FOIA law to encourage pro-active instead of reactive efforts in accomplishing accountabilty and transparency by government.

  • Waterman
    Posted at 17:34h, 14 February

    But how many times has a suit been filed for noncompliance of a binding opinion? And what is the penalty?

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