Catch a glimpse inside FOIA requests

By:  Diane Benjamin

The Freedom of Information Act was created to insure citizens can obtain information about the government THEY pay for.

All documents belong to citizens, not government.  There are a few exemptions to what can be withheld, but every FOIA request starts with the assumption documents are available to anybody who asks for it.  If government wants to withhold information they have to prove why they are entitled to redact it.

I FOIA’d the City of Bloomington to see what is being said about soccer and a sports complex.  Included in what I received was a FOIA request from a guy at ISU wanting copies of any agreements Bloomington has with people playing on the airport fields.  I got the 4 page agreement, it expired in 2012.

I also got this little gem that shows the City of Bloomington doesn’t believe documents belong to the people:


Now we know why Tari has to hire a “communications director” after he was elected the first time.  It looks like releasing any information goes through Nora even though she isn’t in the Clerk’s office or has any duties related to FOIA Requests.

Tari wanted her to control information!

 I did not receive Nora’s response to Debbie, I will have to FOIA that.  

I’ve got a massive amount of information, most of it doesn’t apply.

Here’s what I have learned so far:

  • The soccer fields last spring were under water, games had to be played elsewhere
  • The Sale Barn has soccer fields
  • The expired agreement had the City of Bloomington doing all maintenance to the airport fields
  • Prairie City Soccer League was supposed to pay them based on the number of players each year.  The agreement doesn’t say how much
  • District 87 students play at the airport too, they have priority on two of the fields
  • Parks and Rec had a summer soccer program
  • Bloomington had a summer adult soccer program too, I think they played at the Sale Barn

So far I’ve only come across three emails about the sports complex – two are from citizens, one is a response from Joni Painter:


The cover letter to the Council and four page expired contract:

PCSL Expired Soccer Agreement

PCSL Expired Soccer Agreement (a)PCSL Expired Soccer Agreement (b)PCSL Expired Soccer Agreement (c)PCSL Expired Soccer Agreement (d)

10 thoughts on “Catch a glimpse inside FOIA requests

  1. Bloomington does have an adult soccer program. They played their last games of the summer season last night at the Sale Barn fields.
    The sale barn fields are owned by the Shirk family (who also owned the sale barn). They lease the ground to the City for the purpose of providing athletic fields for use in recreation. The soccer teams paid to participate in the league. The City Parks and Rec program administered the league and use the fund paid by the participants to pay for field maintenance, officials and an administrative fee. The fees had to cover all of the costs of the program and be revenue neutral for the City.

    1. Well put Mr. Ed! Is it true one of the teams had 12 players on the field for the entire second half and still lost? Amazing combined effort by the keepers though lol.

  2. FYI the Bloomington normal sports commission posts their minutes on line and the last yeAr they have discussed the soccer complex. Interesting July minutes aren’t posted yet Thanks

  3. After seeing that the City of Bloomington was to maintain the soccer fields at the airport, and the agreement is expired, I’m betting they are still doing the maintenance, even though, contractually, they don’t have to. Government managers live in la la land. Like you say continuously, Diane, why should they care, its not their money.

  4. There’s more to the SF building than is being publicized. If Bloomington invests anything in it, at all, I would be absolutely shocked. They know more than they’re letting on…

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