by: Diane Benjamin
I don’t have to file with Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Office when local government refuses to comply with Freedom of Information Act Requests or when they violate the Open Meetings Act, there are other avenues. The Illinois Public Access Office was created so citizens had an outlet to keep their government open and transparent. Unfortunately, this office is severely understaffed and can’t handle the volume of complaints being filed from around the state. We are in Illinois after all.
Civil suits can be filed in Circuit Court, no lawyer required. Judges know, or should know the law. The law isn’t long, so I could just print off a copy for them. Maybe it’s time to see if a local judge will hold government accountable. It may be a first in McLean County, but not in the State:
On January 7, 2014, in the Edgar County Courthouse, Circuit Judge Matt Sullivan heard the Freedom Of Information Act civil suit (13-MR-72), filed against Edgar County and Mr. Jimmy Wells, former airport manager. After hearing testimony and arguments, Judge Sullivan declared Edgar County and Mr. Jimmy Wells to be in violation of the Illinois Freedom Of Information Act. He also ordered Edgar County to pay Plaintiff’s costs in bringing this suit. The requested public records had been provided to Plaintiff some time prior to this court date.
Maybe local government will start taking the law seriously when money is involved, not to mention the public flogging by a judge and citizens.