McClain questions SLF FOIA request
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During the public comments portion of Monday’s Carlinville City Council meeting, Carlinville resident Dick McClain voiced the frustrations and concerns he has with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed with the city of Carlinville — specifically, those from Shop Local First (SLF).
“I’d like to know why Shop Local [First] filed a FOIA against the city of Carlinville,” McClain asked. “What was the reason for this?”
“We requested information about the other organizations and how their dues were paid, what requests were made of the other organizations — there were specific requests made of Shop Local that weren’t necessarily made of the other organizations,” said Toon, who noted she is president of the SLF Board of Directors and a member of the city of Carlinville’s Finance Committee. “To my knowledge, we’ve never asked for the same information that was asked for from Shop Local. We just asked to see that we were treated the same as all the other organizations.”
Toon, along with Cheryl Beanblossom, who was in attendance, further elaborated by noting SLF asked for the other organizations to which the city pays dues and the amounts paid.
McClain pointed out that Toon, particularly as an alderman, could have acquired the information without filing a FOIA request. “Why make a big deal when you could have gone down and asked Carla [Brockmeier]…”
Toon interrupted McClain by saying, “I don’t even understand how you know that we filed a FOIA. It is public information, but…”
McClain responded with, “Why can’t you walk down the hall and get that without creating some kind of…”
“Because I’m not the only person on that Shop Local board,” Toon interrupted.
“I understand that, but you have access to this without causing any problems with the city or costing more money and time,” noted McClain.
“No, somebody would still have to look the information up,” Toon replied.
“You could ask her [Brockmeier] for it and you could have brought it to your organization. You’re the president of Shop Local, correct?” McClain asked.
“Dick, that’s exactly what a FOIA is…” said Toon. “She gets the information, sends it on and we pass it along to the board. That’s how FOIA works.”
“All of a sudden this class act from the east, three days later, filed the same thing. What is he? Clairvoyant? Did he have a vision? Or did somebody call him for that?” asked McClain, referring to John Kraft of Edgar County Watchdogs.
“I can’t answer who called who for what, but I know what Shop Local asked for,” Toon said.
“I think it’s an act of revenge,” said McClain, in reference to several requests the city has made to view Shop Local First’s financial statements. None of the requests have been fulfilled.
“Nobody should be afraid of a FOIA,” said Toon.
As a business organization, SLF is not subject to FOIA. However, SLF has not responded to a member request for financial statements submitted in writing on July 28 by this publication.
“Nobody’s afraid of anything, Beth?” McClain shot back.
“You’re making accusations,” Toon interjected.
“You’re not answering my question. Why didn’t you just go ask them?” said McClain.
“We did ask them,” said Toon.
Following the meeting, Brockemeier reported that neither SLF nor Toon made a request for the information prior to filing the FOIA. Brockmeier also noted that Toon could have requested the information without a FOIA.
By filing the FOIA, the request put the city on a five-day deadline to provide the information. Had the deadline been missed, the city would have been in violation of the act. Brockmeier reported the request was met within the deadline.
“Then why file this big FOIA thing when you didn’t have to do that? Just go get it and look at it. You were part of it anyway because you were here when it happened; you’re on council,” McClain replied. “You’re stirring up crap.”
“We’re asking for information. We received it,” replied Toon.
“The way you went about it was revenge,” said McClain.
When Mayor Deanna Demuzio made an attempt to move the meeting on to the next agenda item, McClain stood his ground.
“Hey, I have the floor. You can’t disrupt me. Sorry,” said McClain. “You’re out of order, I have the floor.” To Toon, he said, “I still think you went about it the wrong way. It’s unacceptable.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” said Toon.
McClain continued, “I’m not out to get anybody, but it looks like some people are. It’s not right. The citizens of Carlinville do not need this. You’re wasting our time and our money with all this frivolous crap that you [Toon] bring up.”
“Dick, it’s the same amount of time that’s involved whether I come in and ask for it, personally, or somebody else sends a request,” said Toon.
“You wouldn’t have had to have her spend all the time. She could have just given it to you and it’s done. You want to put it in the paper,” said McClain.
“We didn’t put it in the paper,” replied Toon.
“It got there somehow,” noted McClain.
It was noted that, as a new feature begun the previous week, the Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat will publish FOIA requests the city receives each week.
Toon invited McClain to attend a SLF meeting.
“I think your answers are unacceptable. That’s why you keep pulling this crap. We’re not going anywhere. Get back on the train with the rest of us and help this city move on instead of going out in anger anytime somebody wants to do something. Don’t deny you’re not doing it, because you know you are. Thank you very much,” McClain concluded.
In other public comment
Patrick Bouillon, who recently retired from full-time work with the city, was presented with a proclamation for his 26 years of service. Demuzio pointed out that even though Bouillon will no longer work for the city full time, he will still be employed on a limited basis.
The mayor also recognized Carlinville’s newest Eagle Scout, Jonathan Stilwell. As his project, Stilwell built a new putt-putt golf game for the Lions Club. The new game is both bigger and lighter.
In recent months, seven scouts have earned the Eagle Scout ranking, the highest in the organization. According to Scoutmaster Bill Link, at least one, possibly more, scout(s) is set to earn the achievement.
Also in public comment, Beanblossom presented information on the Last Days of Summer event sponsored by SLF. The event will feature Chairs on Parade, Aug. 5-25; Restaurant Week, Aug. 21-27; and a flotilla parade, squirt gun fight and street party on Aug. 25.
Toon reported she didn’t get some items added to the agenda prior to it being posted on Aug. 4. She expressed her concerns about a discussion held by the Water Ad Hoc Committee and the water contract between Fosterburg and American Water. Since the items were not on the agenda, no discussion was held. She also reported the city’s liability insurance should cover lawsuits currently filed with the city.
City Clerk Carla Brockmeier requested that any items to be placed on the agenda for any Monday council meeting be submitted by the close of business on the Thursday prior to the meeting. By law, public meeting agendas must be posted three days prior to a public meeting.
Also under public comment, Woodard and Curran Area Manager Marc Thomas expressed his thanks to members of the city staff for their work and cooperation in their help with the transition of the city’s Public Works Department to Woodard and Curran. “We’ve got a plan in place. We’ve made a lot of progress. Employees are all on board. I think that went very well.”
Councilman Joe Direso reported the transition has gone extremely smoothly.
Among the city’s correspondence was a letter from Thomas Miller who submitted his resignation from the Carlinville Police Department. Miller has accepted a position with the Illinois State Police.
Joey Naples submitted a letter to the city requesting use of the alley, known as Daley Street, in front of the Uptown Tavern in order to hold a cook-off on Oct. 7. The event will include live music as well as the sale of canned beer and malt beverages. Naples requested the alleyway be closed from 9 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. the next day.
The council approved a motion to place both pieces of correspondence on file.
In other business
The council approved a motion to send Demuzio and council members Doug Downey, Sarah Oswald and Joe Deriso, to the Illinois Municipal League Conference. The cost will be about $818 per person, plus travel expenses. The conference will be held Sept. 21-23 at the Chicago Hilton.
To pay for the trip, about $1,400 remaining in the travel and training fund will be used, with the remainder coming from the economic development fund, since the conference will include sessions on the subject.
Demuzio appointed Richard Spohr as the city’s assistant budget director. The appointment follows Budget Director Claudia Leonatti’s move to another state. Leonatti will still work with the city on budget matters on a limited basis.
The council approved the appointment, with Direso asking city attorney Rick Bertinetti to revise the city’s salary ordinance to accommodate the change. Spohr will work part time at $40 per hour, which is less than Leonatti’s rate of $55 per hour. The addition of Spohr will not result in additional costs to the city.
The council approved the appointment of Councilman Cindy Campbell to the Regional Water Board.
Public Works Director Tim Hasara reported the city’s backhoe broke down while workers were trying to fix a water main break. He noted a private contractor had to be called in to finish the job.
Hasara asked the council to approve the purchase of a new backhoe, using the current backhoe and another piece of equipment as trades. He told the board he has already talked to Leonatti about the purchase. The equipment would be financed through CAT Financial Services with the first of four annual payments of $20,154 due in 2018, with a rate of 4.2 percent and a balloon payment of $1 at the end of four years. The purchase was approved.
Council members gave their approval of the minutes of the previous meeting. Also approved was payment of the monthly bills.
Mayor Deanna Demuzio presented long-time city employee Patrick Bouillon with a proclamation honoring his 26 years of service with the city.
Jonathan Stilwell is the latest Carlinville Scout to achieve the ranking of Eagle Scout. For his project, Stilwell built a new put-put golf game for the Lions Club. Pictured above, from left to right, are his mother, Stacey Reese; father and Scoutmaster Jim Stilwell; Jonathan Stilwell; Mayor Deanna Demuzio; Scoutmaster Bill Link; and Troop Leader Anne Stilwell.