Eight media requests were apparently made to the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department for copies of the suicide notes that Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano wrote to members of his family. Another was made by the Better Government Association.
The one to Metra was made public.
Sheriff’s Department FOI Officer Jan Weech refused to release the other documents based on Section 7(1)(c) of the Freedom of Information Act. That’s the one relating to the information being “personal information…the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy…”
The last term quoted above is defined as “the disclosure of information that is highly personal or objectionable to a reasonable person and which the subject’s right to privacy outweighs any legitimate public interest in obtaining the information.”
I could care less about most of the contents of the notes, but there are a couple of things about them I would like to see. I’m not ready to share all of that yet, but a time may come when I shall do so.
Of interest in the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor’s office’s letter affirming Weech’s turn down is the following:
“These letters contain Mr. Pagano’s last words to his family members and friends and are expressions of his feelings to these individuals. The letters also contain instructions to his wife for handing personal financial matters and other private family issues.”
Since Pagano took money that he was not entitled to, it seems to me that the public has a distinct interest in the information about the Pagano’s “personal financial matters.”
The hundreds of thousands of Metra dollars went somewhere.
The public has a right to see that it is returned.
If parts of the letters would aid in such recovery, I believe the public has a right to see them.
Others requesting to see the letters follow:
- Kevin Craver, Northwest Herald
- Charles Keeshan, Daily Herald
- Richard Wronski, Chicago Tribune
- Eric Siegel, WLS-TV
- Bob Roberts, WBBM-Radio
- Madeleine Martino Fox, WTTW-TV
- Mary Wisniewski, Chicago Sun-Times
- Bob Herguth, Better Government Association