Mary Drumm just wanted to know what her city leaders discussed with a consultant for a tax increment financing district that the city established. Seems reasonable to see what went into the decision that will change the city’s business climate and take money from students as it drives up her property taxes.
Collinsville denied her request.
“Requiring the FOIA officer to review approximately 174 pages of documents burdens the operations of the city because the FOIA officer also has duties as a city clerk and administrative coordinator,” they wrote.
The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor told the city it was wrong and needed to honor Drumm’s requst for the information.
“Compliance with any FOIA request entails an administrative burden, but the issue is whether the public interest in disclosure justifies the burden,” the opinion read.
Well, if there were 174 pages of communication, there certainly was more information about the district and its establishment than came before the public. The lame excuse that a public official was too busy to review the public’s records before disclosing them sounds especially lame.
Reality is likely that there’s something in that 174 pages that will embarrass someone in city government.
Mayor John Miller said that of course his transparent city wants to disclose all it can. “We truly believe in the freedom of information,” he said.
Excuse us, but that would be the same group of believers who forced the News-Democrat to sue them and fought for seven months against the release of information about Councilwoman Cheryl Brombolich and her misuse of city credit cards and accounts. Illinois courts three times had ruled in favor of disclosing the same types of documents, but Collinsville leaders insisted on being forced to be the fourth.
True believers err on the side of sharing public records with the public.