FOIA Request Rejection & Appeal

Kay’s post about Governor Quinn’s signing the new, improved FOIA legislation is great news, but comes too late to help with this current and ongoing situation.

Let’s start with a recap of events. I have been trying to obtain, via the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), ReNew:DeKalb meeting minutes. Re:New, as a private organization, does not have to respond under FOIA directly; however, a provision of its contract with the City of DeKalb requires it to submit certain documents to the city. Here is the provision of the Re:New contract (p. 249) upon which I have based my requests:

SUBMISSION OF ANNUAL BUDGET, AUDITOR’S REPORT & MEETING MINUTES: ReNew DeKalb shall annually submit a copy of their approved annual budget and Auditor’s Report and copies of any board meeting minutes of any meeting where the receipt or use of City funding is discussed or acted upon within thirty (30) days of the approval of such documents.

“City funding” is not specific to Re:New’s annual allocation. It includes the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) monies, too. The Egyptian Theatre has the same provision in its contract with DeKalb (p. 242) and its allocation is TIF funding (p. 237). Re:New is all about TIF, from the Architectural Improvement Program (AIP) to special projects like the skating rink. In fact, it would be surprising to find out that there are any Re:New meetings whatsoever that don’t discuss some aspect of the use of city funding. BTW, this has Open Meetings Act implications, too, but that’s a separate complaint. Continue reading FOIA Request Rejection & Appeal

City: Breach of Contract? No problem!

Near the end of the Council meeting tonight, I argued against Re:New DeKalb’s getting another agreement with the City of DeKalb because of breach of contract. Re:New has not been turning in the documentation called for (which could then be accessed via the city through the Freedom of Information Act) nor has it been following the Open Meetings Act. I can verify this provision has been ignored for at least two years.

The mayor mumbled something about having Legal look into it, then called for a vote on the resolution with no further discussion. Re:New gets $45,000 of our money this year and follows whatever rules it wants to. Or none, I guess.

A lot of other business was conducted tonight, almost none of it good. Use this as your council meeting open thread if you like.