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Wrong time to keep secrets

Belleville and O’Fallon like to pat themselves on the back for openness in government – but when it suits their purpose, they apparently have no problem keeping secrets.

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital requested records from Belleville about the city’s opposition to the hospital moving from Belleville to O’Fallon but didn’t get them all; Belleville requested records from O’Fallon about its role in the move and didn’t get them all, either.

Now Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s staff is reviewing the material to determine what must be released.

That determination needs to happen prior to the Dec. 16 state hearing on St. Elizabeth’s certificate of need, but don’t hold your breath. Reviews of Freedom of Information Act denials typically take months, not days.

Maybe the cities’ decisions will be upheld, but more likely they’ll be ordered to hand over the requested records. If so, they also need to be told that public information requests need to be honored regardless of who’s making the request.