City Must Reveal Aldermanic Appointee Applications

It’s Chicago we’re talking about, but it bodes well for the very similar DeKalb Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests made by our local dailies, does it not?

March 5, 2010 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — The Illinois Attorney General’s office says the Mayor’s office must turn over job applications for the two vacant Alderman positions.

The city had tried to keep the information secret. Late this afternoon, the AG’s public access counselor, Cara Smith, ruled that the public should have access to information about the application process.

“When this public office becomes vacant, it follows that the public has a legitimate interest in knowing who has applied for the position so that they may evaluate whether the individuals are qualified to represent a particular ward and discern why one applicant was appointed over others,” wrote Smith in the ruling.

The AG’s ruling denies the city’s privacy argument. Public Access Counselor Cara Smith writes, “any right to privacy of applicants for aldermanic positions, however, does not outweigh the public’s legitimate interest in obtaining information regarding the process for filling vacancies in the City Council.”

This finding may have implications not only for the DeKalb mayor’s secrecy over the names of applicants to both the vacated 3rd and 7th Wards, but also for the refusal of the 7th Ward pick, Lisa Kammes, to reveal anything about her educational and work experiences. (Is she ashamed of them? What’s the deal?)

Meanwhile, in a reversal of his behavior during the 3rd Ward selection process, Mayor Povlsen has refrained from boasting about reaching unanimous consent in private before next week’s Council meeting when approval of the new 7th Ward appointee is on the table. Not that anyone should necessarily believe Mr. Povlsen isn’t still operating that way; he may just have gained an awareness of his placement on thin ice in terms of the Open Meetings Act.

[H/T MC]