FOIA Victory in DeKalb

The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) ruled yesterday that the City of DeKalb must release the names of the persons who applied for appointment to finish out the term of its Third Ward alderman, who resigned last December. DeKalb’s attorney had argued a privacy exemption under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Under new rules put in force the first of this year, governmental units in Illinois must notify the PAC of the intent to deny FOIA requests based on a privacy exemption. The old rules allowed for an in-house administrator to rule on appeals of FOIA request denials.

The PAC made a similar ruling March 5 in requiring the City of Chicago to make public the applications of persons seeking consideration to fill two empty seats on its City Council.

Northern Illinois University’s Northern Star newspaper authored the original FOIA request for the Third Ward applicants’ names, which led to the ruling. DeKalb’s Daily Chronicle filed its request one day later and is awaiting a separate response.

Based on a story published today in the Chronicle, it does not appear likely the City of DeKalb will appeal the PAC’s ruling.

I submitted a Request for Review of possible Open Meetings Act (OMA) violations related to the same process of filling DeKalb’s empty Third Ward seat. The Request was accepted for review, but the PAC has not yet ruled on it.