Working on a tip that Undersheriff Andy Zinke had given some interesting job recommendations, McHenry County Blog filed Freedom of Information requests for those which he signed since he became Sheriff Keith Nyren’s top assistant.
Three were provided, but with the names blanked out.
I appealed to the Public Access Counselor of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
The one below was sent to McHenry Police Chief John Jones on August 30, 2010.
The next one, dated December 12, 2011, is addressed “To Whom It May Concern.” It praises a former employee. Zinke characterizes as “one of the best,” not to mention “an avid basketball player.”
The third letter, dated July 24, 2013, is addressed to the Disney Cruise Line’s Human Resources Manager, whose name is not redacted. In the letter, Zinke states, “I do not provide a reference for everyone who makes such a request.”
I was going to wait until my appeal was decided upon, but, then, I read the Sheriff’s Department’s reply to my appeal:
“As indicated previously, the names were redacted pursuant to sections 7 1 (b) and (c) which exempt private and personal information.
“The disclosure of these names without the consent of the involved would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the privacy of those parties. Furthermore, the privacy interest of the involved individuals in their employment status outweighs any interest Mr. Skinner or the public may have in knowing the redacted names.
“Finally, the redacted information does not bear on the public duTies of any public employee or official.”
This prompted the following reply from McHenry County Blog. Here’s part of it:
“The last paragraph has me chuckling:
“‘Finally, the redacted information does not bear on the public duties of any public employee or official.’
“If they have nothing to do with Andy Zinke’s official duties, why were taxpayer resources used to prepare and print them?
“Further, if any of the individuals have been terminated from the Sheriff’s Department and later have been given favorable recommendations, that would be in the public interest to bring to light.”