By: Diane Benjamin
Short recap on my lawsuit against the City of Bloomington:
- Last July Bloomington denied THREE Freedom of Information requests in a week
- I asked City Lawyer Jeff Jurgens to reconsider, I included Attorney General opinions that his position was invalid
- He emailed me that they would review the documents and get back to me
- I agreed to wait to hear from him
- Jurgens emailed me 4 days later saying the Mayor was leaving on vacation and they might agree to release some emails when he returns
- Since Jurgens was still claiming invalid reasons for redacting emails, I told him that wasn’t good enough and that I was filing a lawsuit.
I filed the suit on July 30th. The City violated the Freedom of Information Act by illegally redacting emails. I received some emails AFTER filing the lawsuit. The documents they filed with the court claim they weren’t guilty, they just produced them from the goodness of their heart. If that was really the case, they could have agreed to pay my court costs. The case would have ended there.
Instead, they have filed numerous multi-page documents, all prepared at your expense.
Today I received their latest 15 page document. The lawyers created work for themselves, they went over every email to justify why I shouldn’t get it. I have no idea what these emails are – only the Judge and the City know. If the City has properly redacted them the first time, they could have saved themselves a lot of work.
Meanwhile, Mayor Renner emails citizens and makes up his own facts:
From: Tari Renner <email@example.com>
To: Kevin Gerrard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Tari Renner <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2014 7:58 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: [New post] Another COURT update
Unfortunately, the person you should be blaming for wasting the taxpayer’s money is Diane Benjamin!
There is absolutely nothing of substance that is happening in the City of Bloomington that people don’t
know about or I won’t tell them (except for personnel matters and the occasional contract etc.).
I invite you to my bi-weekly open house where we can discuss things
in the open (not the shadows which is the mode of a ‘blogger’). We can get you or anyone answers.
Ms. Benjamin filed a lawsuit to get some emails last summer because she insisted she wanted something
immediately that she had no legal right to. Our legal counsel told me (after conferring with other attorneys and local government officials)
that Ms. Benjamin had no legal right to what she was requesting but, since it involved emails that she already
had (otherwise she wouldn’t have known to ask for them) and were just opinions, I didn’t think it mattered whether we released them.
I was leaving the country so I instructed the attorney to say I would consider the request to release the emails once I returned (but we weren’t acknowledging
she had any right to them). Ms. Benjamin sent an email (I’m happy to forward to you) to our counsel that said roughly “Not good enough”
I’m filing in circuit court tomorrow.”
So, you should blame the person who just had to behave like an arrogant jerk for the costs to the city. It’s hard to quantify what we spend
jumping through Ms. Benajamin’s hoops.
And, I’m not sure what you’re even talking about with the committee you referred to Mr. Gerrard. ALL policy decisions are made by the duly elected
city council. What you’ve suggested isn’t even legally possible. I don’t read Ms. Benjamin’s blog so it’s possible she has, once again, made
something up or distorted something beyond recognition.
My advice would be clarify the situation before you get upset over something that’s not even happening. I’m more than happy to answer
your questions/ concerns. The best forum for this is our biweekly open houses.
Tari RennerMayor of Bloomington109 E. OliveBloomington, IL 61701.
By law, Tari, I didn’t have to bow at your feet and pray for what I am entitled to! So far the judge doesn’t agree with the you. FYI – I didn’t have the emails or I wouldn’t have filed the lawsuit.
The Freedom of Information act is very clear. ALL documents are considered public, except in a few stated instances. Tari’s version is the exact opposite and he uses taxpayer-funded attorneys to corrupt the process.
In case Tari is trying to say there isn’t a lawsuit, here is page one of what I received today: