By: Diane Benjamin
The Freedom of Information law was written to protect the rights of taxpayers. Since government has no money unless they take it from citizens, it is presumed under the law that all documents BELONG to the citizens, not government. Here’s the opening paragraph of the law:
(5 ILCS 140/1)
(from Ch. 116, par. 201)
Pursuant to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of government, it is declared to be the public policy of the State of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts and policies of those who represent them as public officials and public employees consistent with the terms of this Act. Such access is necessary to enable the people to fulfill their duties of discussing public issues fully and freely, making informed political judgments and monitoring government to ensure that it is being conducted in the public interest. http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=85&ChapterID=2
The law isn’t difficult to understand. Personal information can be redacted, otherwise there isn’t much citizens aren’t entitled to.
The Allin Township Fire Protection District doesn’t see it that way. Evidently they are terrified of making documents available to the public. At the October 14, 2015 Trustee Meeting, they appointed a lawyer as their FOIA officer:
If I remember right, McGrath (not Magrath) charges over $150.00 per hour. Taxpayers are being billed by a lawyer to review documents and possibly deny access. A secretary could have been appointed for much less. That person could review the law and act accordingly – it’s not that difficult when you believe the citizens are ENTITLED to information. A secretary could have asked for a lawyer’s opinion if there was a question, but paying a lawyer to copy bank statements and invoices is throwing money away.
Appointing a lawyer should make citizens wonder “What are they hiding?”.
The minutes can be seen here: ATFD Meeting Minutes 101415-1