City accused of violating FOIA

City accused of violating FOIA

CARLINVILLE (Sept. 7, 2017) – A lawsuit was filed against the city of Carlinville in Macoupin County Circuit Court Aug. 11 by Robert Bogue of Paris, Ill., which is located in Edgar County, claiming the city violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by refusing to fulfill two requests for public information both dated April 15, 2017.

According to the suit, Bogue’s request was for (1) copies of all diplomas, certificates or any other proof of training for each member on the city council and the mayor, which documents they have completed FOIA training; (2) copies of all diplomas certificates or any other proof of training for each member on the city council and the mayor, which documents they have completed the Open Meetings Act (OMA) training; (3) copies of all city of Carlinville statements for the past six months for all credit card, debit card, purchase card and any other charge account utilized by the city of Carlinville; (4) copies of all expense reports and claims submitted to the city by each member on the city council and the mayor for the past six months and specifically to include reimbursements of any kind as well as travel expenses.

The second April 15 request was for (1) copies of all minutes, notes, video with audio, or audio recordings of all electoral board meetings for the past six months; (2) copies of all agendas, public notices (newspaper ads) of all electoral board meetings for the past six months; (3) copies of all agendas, minutes, video recordings and audio recordings of the electoral board meeting held at city attorney Rick Bertinetti’s private office on or about Dec. 28, 2016 (same day as executive session held at the same location), and prior to the Electoral Board open meeting held the same day.

Bogue claims the city did not respond to the either request, let alone in the five-day statutory deadline.

The lawsuit states Bogue submitted requests for review by the Illinois Attorney General on April 26, and on May 2, the Attorney General sent a letter to the city asking it to respond to both Bogue and the Attorney General.

According to the lawsuit, the city of Carlinville responded to neither the Attorney General nor Bogue, at which point the Attorney General sent the city a second letter, again asking it to respond. According to documents filed with the court, as of Aug. 11, the city has yet to respond to the FOIA requests.

The lawsuit accuses the city of Carlinville of two counts of willful violation of FOIA. Bogue asks the court afford his case precedence on the court’s docket except as to causes the court considers to be of greater importance.

The lawsuit asks that the court find the city of Carlinville in violation of FOIA, order the city to produce the requested documents, enjoin the city from withholding non-exempt public records under FOIA, order the city to pay civil penalties, award plaintiff reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and award such other relief the court considers appropriate.

Bogue is represented by Matthew Topic and Joshua Burday of the legal firm Loevy and Loevy of Chicago.