Things I’ve learned under the Freedom of Information Act

By:  Diane Benjamin

Contrary to what government believes, all documents belong to the citizens unless it can be proven under the law they should remain secret.  VERY few exceptions are available – the writers of the FOIA law realized that government DOES NOT exist without taxpayer confiscation of money and therefore the people paying the bills have to right to know almost everything about how it is spent.

The local press is a joke.  The Pantagraph and WJBC intentionally don’t investigate government, they might lose interviews with the elected elitists if actual fraud or official misconduct was found.  Therefore citizens are left uniformed.

Latest example:  The McLean County TEA Party held the first candidates forum for Ward 4 last Tuesday.  Both the Pantagraph and WJBC were sent Press Releases announcing the event.  Neither sent a reporter to cover it.  Reason?  Obviously to marginalize the candidates they don’t prefer.  If the preferred candidate had been quoted saying what she did, Ward 4 residents would never consider her a viable option to Judy Stearns.  Look for both media sources to promote Renner’s candidate and try to destroy opposition.

I do the investigations the press refuses to do.  Below are just some of the things I’ve discovered under the Freedom of Information Act.  I also report lots of news that doesn’t require a FOIA request.  The local media and elitists are desperate to control the conversation.  They will never investigate government scandals or mis-use of taxpayer money.  Examples:  Tari calling people off their meds at least twice after the Pantagraph did a documentary on mental health. Not In Our Town was promoted in the paper, but violations by the mayor and racism charges against an officer weren’t a problem.  WJBC had interviews concerning the Calhoun/Schumaker incident but never bothered to verify who know what and when.  Not In Our Town doesn’t matter if government is the violator.

Citizens deserve better than the local lap dogs masquerading as media.  Don’t look for their investigation into the relationship between Ward 4 candidate Chip Frank and John Butler-CIAM Manager.  Don’t look for the investigation of Renner telling his cabal that a vote on a downtown hotel will wait until after the election.  The Pantagraph and WJBC aren’t in the news business.

Here’s a PARTIAL list found by FOIA with the City of Bloomington:

  • Auditor reports made to the City Council (that are ignored) were not posted on the website.  Now they are, complete with repudiation for not fixing problems.
  • Same for Coliseum Auditors – There reports were not posted on the website
  • Paradigm was discussed by City employees and contract legal staff LONG before Fazzini quit the Council.
  • The FBI was consulted about the Calhoun/Schumaker incident, redacted emails prevented me from knowing by which side
  • Emails were exchanged between Chief Finney, Todd Greenberg, and David Hales concerning Calhoun/Schumaker-redacted by the City  Where’s the press?
  • City over-paid 2 employees almost $12,000.  It is being paid back very slowly
  • The economic impact numbers reported for the Coliseum are a joke
  • Renner appointed Joni Painter to the council knowing  that she attended a fund-raiser for self-described socialist Jan Schakowsky
  • 4th Quarter 2014 Coliseum financial statement was not posted on the website
  • I had to file to get the CIAM contract – it was not on the website
  • I received a list of people trying to pass Modified Wards in the City of Bloomington – including Tari Renner
  • Aldermen Painter thinks I should be charged for requesting documents that belong to the public – refer to who she admires above
  • Mayor Renner attacks people he doesn’t agree with instead of acting like a Mayor
  • The City contracted with a Chicago legal firm to fight Judy Stearns’ Open Meetings Act violation filed against Renner and Hales – Attorney General STILL hasn’t issued a ruling.
  • The Coliseum was never issued an occupancy permit-maybe that is why problems with the Fire Exhaust System were not detected earlier
  • City did not maintain controls over employees and ex-employees with PCards.  I obtained a list by FOIA with ex-employees listed as still having a card

Obtained by FOIA from the County – County Auditor Michelle Anderson’s furniture and art purchase with taxpayer money

Obtained by FOIA from Normal – A LOT of money and time was wasted on Paradigm

Obtained by FOIA from Heartland – wind turbine cost will NEVER be recovered – grants they received aren’t included in the cost – they bought a discontinued model from Spain making parts hard to obtain.

Also from Heartland – they pay more for energy by buying REC’s – pieces of paper that make them feel they are saving the planet.  (using your money of course)

Do you want to go back to getting news from the lap-dogs?

Better question, what are you doing to keep them from winning?



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