Althoff Comments on FOIA Modification Bill She Sponsored

From State Senator Pam Althoff:

In response to recent e-mails and phone calls I have received regarding my yes vote on House Bill 3796, I would like to explain why this legislation, will in fact, increase access to public records and improve the way “voluminous” or large Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are processed.

The last week of the spring session, House Bill 3796 passed the Illinois House

The last week of the spring session, House Bill 3796 passed the Illinois House

House Bill 3796 was vetoed by the Governor but overridden by both the Senate (39-13-0) and House of Representatives (77-36-0) this fall. This legislation will increase government transparency by allowing public bodies to more efficiently respond to FOIA requests for information that is available on the internet while giving public bodies more time and flexibility to deal with voluminous FOIA requests.

In the State Senate, McHenry County's Pam Althoff helped sponsor House Bill 3796.  Voting with her in favor was Karen McConnaughay.

In the State Senate, McHenry County’s Pam Althoff helped sponsor House Bill 3796. Voting with her in favor was Karen McConnaughay.  Dan Duffy did not vote on the bill.

By allowing public bodies to refer FOIA requesters to public websites for valuable government information, it will save time and money for both requesters and public bodies.

This is the House vote to override Governor Pat Quinn's wishes.

This is the House vote to override Governor Pat Quinn’s wishes.  Tim Schmitz again supported the bill, while Jack Franks, David McSweeney, Mike Tryon and Barbara Wheeler opposed weakening the Freedom of Information Act.

It is anticipated that many public bodies will choose to make public records available online rather than expend valuable and scarce resources to deal with routine FOIA requests, this will increase transparency and availability of public records.

In the Senate veto override vote, sponsor Pam Althoff was in favor, while +

In the Senate veto override vote, sponsor Pam Althoff was in favor, while Dan Duffy and Karen McConnaughay voted in opposition.  McConnaughay changed her mind on the bill.

By allowing more time and flexibility to deal with “voluminous” requests, public bodies will remain responsible for making public records accessible but will be able to manage large FOIA requests in a way that effectively uses the resources of the public body.

The debate surrounding this legislation stemmed primarily from confusion over the intent of House Bill 3796 and its relationship to a vastly different piece of legislation, Senate Bill 2799, which died in the House this fall.

These two measures were often used interchangeably by opposition groups to argue that lawmakers are trying to restrict public access to government documents. However, these two pieces of legislation are substantially different.

Pam Althoff

Pam Althoff

The true intent of House Bill 3796 was to help improve efficiency in the processing of large FOIA requests for both the requester and the unit of government. This will help reduce personnel costs incurred by public bodies in processing large requests, which involve intensive efforts to copy, review, and properly redact requested information.

While many believe it easy and cheap for public bodies to respond to FOIA requests, because many of the documents are maintained electronically, that is really not an accurate assessment.

FOIA requests require a search for records, a review of those records to determine if any exemptions apply or if any redactions are warranted, and the time-consuming task of redacting any documents that are subject to disclosure but contain exempt information (such as social security numbers and other personal information). It should also be noted that the “voluminous request” provisions do not apply to the press so FOIA requests from the press will continued to be handled in the normal timeframes.

Senate Bill 2799 contained provisions that were viewed as expanding the ability of public bodies to usethe “preliminary drafts” exemption to FOIA and to limit the ability of a requester to obtain attorney’s fees in a lawsuit seeking disclosure of public records.

As my voting record reflects, I have long advocated for increasing government transparency and efficiency. I supported House Bill 3796 because I believe it will improve the timeliness of FOIA requests, provide flexibility, reduce costs and increase access to public records that will now be accessible online.

If you have any further questions on this issue, please contact my district office at (815) 455-6330 or e-mail me at [email protected]

= = = = =
The Citizen Advocacy Center pointed to the following shortcomings of the bill:
specific points that you can make when you call:

  • This bill for “voluminous requests” is confusing and creates more problems than solutions.
  • Mechanisms currently exist in the FOIA to protect public bodies from “unduly burdensome” requests and “recurrent requesters.”
  • This bill will snare regular FOIA users who ask for routine documents and cause a delay of over a month to receive documents.
  • There are 7000+ public bodies in Illinois, and not nearly enough media outlets to hold them all accountable. We rely on Illinois residents to monitor local government to keep it in check.
  • This bill creates the “haves” and a “haves-not” in Illinois with respect to the right to public records because of the fees up to $100, which can be incurred for asking for routine electronic documents that can easily be attached to an email to send to the requester.
  • There is no empirical evidence that the public bodies’ complaints of “abusive” or “harassing” requesters, and for the anecdotal cases where these requesters exist, the unduly burdensome and recurrent requester provisions in FOIA should suffice and public bodies should avail themselves of those remedies.

Comments

Althoff Comments on FOIA Modification Bill She Sponsored — 13 Comments

  1. Senator Althof left out some pertinent information in her following claims.

    “The debate surrounding this legislation stemmed primarily from confusion oVer the intent of House Bill 3796 and its relationship to a vastly different piece of legislation, Senate Bill 2799, which died in the House this fall.”

    These two measures were often used interchangeably by opposition groups to argue that lawmakers are trying to restrict public access to government documents.”

    Here is pertinent information left out of the claim.

    The amendment to Senate Bill 2799 applying to FOIA was filed 11/25/2014 by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie.

    The Senate override of the Governor’s of HB3796 (Public Act 98-1129) occurred on 12/3/2014, at which time PA 98-1129 became effective.

    So any debate or argument prior to the passage of HB 3796/ PA 98-1129 would have to occur between 11/25/2014 and 12/3/2014.

    November 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, Dec 1, 2, 3.

    That’s 9 days.

    Maybe there was debate or argument after the passage of HB 3796 / PA 98-1129 on December 3, 2014 until the date Senator Althoff posted the above letter titled, “Althoff: FOIA Legislation Increases Transparency and Efficiency,” on her website on Thursday, December 11, 2014

    http://www.senatoralthoff.com/Media/News/TabId/622/p/21970/v/2000/althoff-foia-legislation-increases-transparency-and-efficiency.aspx

    December 3 – December 11 is also 9 days.

    That’s a grand total of 18 days during which any confusion or interchangeable use would have to occur.

    So where is such confusion, interchangeable use, debate, or argument?

    Where is the evidence the Attorney General’s Office, Better Government Association, Citizens Advocacy Center, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Northwest Herald, Daily Herald, State Journal Register, Illinois Policy Institute, or any other common source of FOIA information was confused?

    Here is the history of HB3796 (Public Act 98-1129) in the General Assembly from 11/25/2014 (the date SB 2799 was introduced) until HB 3796 was enacted into state law.

    12/02/2014 – Senate – Placed Calendar Total Veto December 3, 2014
    12/03/2014 – Senate – Motion Filed Override Governor Veto Sen. Michael E. Hastings
    12/03/2014 – Senate – 3/5 Vote Required
    12/03/2014 – Senate – Override Governor Veto – Senate Passed 039-013-000
    12/03/2014 – House — Both Houses Override Total Veto
    12/08/2014 – House — Effective Date December 3, 2014
    12/08/2014 – House — Public Act . . . . . . . . . 98-1129

    Here is the history of SB 2799 in the General Assembly from 11/25/2014 (the date the FOIA portion of HB 2799 was introduced) until HB 3796 was enacted into state law.

    11/25/2014 – House — House Floor Amendment No. 3 Filed with Clerk by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie
    11/25/2014 – House — House Floor Amendment No. 3 Referred to Rules Committee
    11/25/2014 – House — House Floor Amendment No. 3 Rules Refers to Executive Committee
    12/03/2014 – Senate – Chief Sponsor Changed to Sen. Kwame Raoul
    12/03/2014 – Senate – Chief Sponsor Changed to Sen. William R. Haine
    12/03/2014 – House — Rule 19(a) / Re-referred to Rules Committee
    12/03/2014 – House — House Floor Amendment No. 3 Rule 19(a) / Re-referred to Rules Committee

    So SB 2799, one of two bills over which Senator Althoff alleges the press and public was confused, was referred to the House Rules Committee on the same day, December 3, 2014, as the Senate overrode Governor Pat Quinn’s veto of HB 3796, which is the other bill over which Senator Althoff alleges the press and public was confused.

    That Senate override of the Governor’s previous veto of HB 3796, allowed HB 3796 to become law in the form of PA 98-1129.

    So Pat Quinn was against HB 3796.

    And Pam Althoff was for HB 3796.

    How much evidence can anyone find there was confusion, interchangeable use, debate, or agrument between HB 3796 and SB 2799?

    Is there a whimper of evidence?

    Slight evidence?

    Some evidence?

    Quite a bit of evidence?

    Widespread evidence?

    A preponderance of evidence?

    Overwhelming evidence?

    To be continued…

  2. Regarding SB 2799, the FOIA bill which did not pass.

    SB 2799 did not start out as a FOIA bill.

    Here is the history.

    Introduced 1/30/2014 by Sen. William R. Haine: Transfer of the Senior Health Insurance Program to the Department on Aging.

    Amended 5/23/2014 by Rep. Robyn Gabel: The Personnel Code is amended by changing Section 4c as follows.

    Amended 5/29/2014 by Rep. Robyn Gabel: The Illinois Power Agency Act is amended by changing Section 1-56 as follows.

    Amended 11/25/2014 by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie: The Freedom of Information Act is amended by changing Sections 7 and 11 as follows.

    That should be illegal.

    Hopefully all high schoolers, most middle schoolers, and some elementary kids know that makes no sense.

    If you want to introduce a new bill, then introduce a new bill.

    Don’t change an existing bill to be something entirely different.

    http://www.ilga.gov > Bills & Resolutions > 98th General Assembly Legislation > Senate Bills 2799.

    It’s ridiculous.

    Moving from SB 2799 to HB 3796.

    Once again HB 3796 became Public Act 98-1129.

    PA 98-1129 introduces a new term into FOIA law.

    Voluminous Request.

    Prior to PA 98-1129, there was no mention of voluminous request.

    What is a voluminous request?

    Here’s how it’s defined in the state law.

    (h) “Voluminous request” means a request that: (i) includes more than 5 individual requests for more than

    5 different categories of records or a combination of individual requests that total requests for more

    than 5 different categories of records in a period of 20 business days; or (ii) requires the compilation

    of more than 500 letter or legal-sized pages of public records unless a single requested record exceeds

    500 pages.”

    Is that crystal clear?

    No.

    It will be interpreted by taxing districts, lawyers, State Attorney General’s office, BGA, Citizen’s Advocacy Center, and courts.

    The major problem is it gives another tool in the tool belt of taxing districts whom decide they want to stonewall citizen FOIA requests.

    And if you think that doesn’t happen talk to the States Attorney General office, Better Government Association, and Citizen Advocacy Center.

    That’s the biggest problem in a nutshell.

    To further describe the problem, in some taxing districts, you pretty much have to know the answer to the question, before you ask the question, to properly construct the FOIA request.

    Althoff also points out the following.

    “This legislation will increase government transparency by allowing public bodies to more efficiently respond to FOIA requests for information that is available on the internet while giving public bodies more time and flexibility to deal with voluminous FOIA requests.”

    Here’s the problem with that sentence.

    It does not say the information on the internet has to be in a searchable format, in an easy to find location, with a title easily identified and understood by the average citizen.

    Most people have no problem obtaining the information from a URL as opposed to an email attachment, as long as it’s the information they desire.

    So that sentence as written favors taxing districts not FOIA requesters.

    Now another problem, which is also not addressed in PA 98-1129, is that many taxing districts ignore state laws requiring the taxing district to post information on the taxing district website.

    So then the citizen requester has to contact the taxing district to obtain the information that is required by state law to be on the taxing district website.

    And there is no penalty to the taxing district for not placing the information required by state law on the taxing district website.

    And some taxing districts will not respond to such citizen requests, until the citizen files a FOIA request.

    And during the whole runaround, the taxing district employee is getting paid, while the citizen requester is doing this on their unpaid personal time.

    Here’s some more information about that.

    School districts are amongst the worst offenders.

    Many school districts do not post documents required by state law on their website such as collective bargaining agreements, teacher and administrator salary and benefit information, salary and benefit information of employees earning over $75K whom contribute to the IMRF pension fund, and more.

    And when school districts do post the collective bargaining agreements or salary and benefit information, they often have one of the following problems.

    1. The documents are not indefinitely archived on the district website.

    2. The documents are not in a searchable format, rather a non searchable (image) format.

    3. The collective bargaining agreements are not complete, rather missing addendums, amendments, memorandums of understanding (MoU), appendixes, riders, side letters, etc.

    4. There is never a change document collective bargaining agreement, containing strikethroughs for deletions and underlined text for additions. For comparison and as a precedent, bills on the General Assembly website contains strikethroughs for deletions and underlined text for additions.

    4. The documents are cryptically titled with only the Public Act Number (no description) and thus hard to
    find.

    5. The documents are clearly titled yet still hard to find on the district website.

    6. Less often but it does happen, the documents for some mysterious reason will not open.

    7. The current document is not on the taxing district website, just a previous version of the document.

    The current laws have no meaningful consequence to taxing districts whom ignore or violate current FOIA laws.

    In another instance, if a citizen appeals a FOIA denial to the state attorney general’s office, and the state attorney general’s office finds the FOIA denial should be overturned, it’s not a binding decision, meaning the taxing district does not have to comply with the state attorney general’s decision.

    Also, when taxing districts fulfill a FOIA, why don’t they put the FOIA results on the district website.

    Some taxing districts do that.

    Not many.

    And the taxing district certainly does not need to put the FOIA requester’s name on the website, just the question asked and the results is sufficient.

    The above is a starting list, but there’s so much more that Althoff could do to increase government transparency and efficiency.

    How about any and all public sector collective bargaining agreements, at the state, county, and local levels, are required to be posted online, and that includes any modifications to the agreement including but not limited to amendments, addendums, appendixes, memorandums of understanding (MoU), letters of agreement, riders, side letters, etc; in a searchable format (as opposed to non-searchable image format), in an easy to find location (not buried layers past the home page), in an easy to identify title (not PA-xxxx, rather, Salary and Benefits Report, for example).

    How about basic information about every single public sector pension fund (including all local police and fire pension funds) is required to be posted online.
    How about the salary and pension history of all public sector employees is required to be posted online.
    How about itemized pay for every single public sector employee is required to be posted online in a spreadsheet, including itemized columns for each unique source of pay for each employee such as: base salary, stipends, pension pickup, sick days, overtime, bonus, employer healthcare contribution, etc. with no “other” category, instead itemize everything.

    Here’s a previous McHenry County Blog post about HB 3796 / PA 98-1129.

    Legislature Set to Override Freedom of Information Restriction Veto
    Posted on 11/17/2014 by Cal Skinner

    http://mchenrycountyblog.com/2014/12/24/althoff-comments-on-foia-modification-bill-she-sponsored

  3. Regarding SB 2799, the FOIA bill which did not pass.

    SB 2799 did not start out as a FOIA bill.

    Here is the history.

    Introduced 1/30/2014 by Sen. William R. Haine: Transfer of the Senior Health Insurance Program to the Department on Aging.

    Amended 5/23/2014 by Rep. Robyn Gabel: The Personnel Code is amended by changing Section 4c as follows.

    Amended 5/29/2014 by Rep. Robyn Gabel: The Illinois Power Agency Act is amended by changing Section 1-56 as follows.

    Amended 11/25/2014 by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie: The Freedom of Information Act is amended by changing Sections 7 and 11 as follows.

    That should be illegal.

    Hopefully all high schoolers, most middle schoolers, and some elementary kids know that makes no sense.

    If you want to introduce a new bill, then introduce a new bill.

    Don’t change an existing bill to be something entirely different.

    http://www.ilga.gov > Bills & Resolutions > 98th General Assembly Legislation > Senate Bills 2799.

    It’s ridiculous.

    Moving from SB 2799 to HB 3796.

    Once again HB 3796 became Public Act 98-1129.

    PA 98-1129 introduces a new term into FOIA law.

    Voluminous Request.

    Prior to PA 98-1129, there was no mention of voluminous request.

    What is a voluminous request?

    Here’s how it’s defined in the state law.

    (h) “Voluminous request” means a request that: (i) includes more than 5 individual requests for more than 5 different categories of records or a combination of individual requests that total requests for more than 5 different categories of records in a period of 20 business days; or (ii) requires the compilation of more than 500 letter or legal-sized pages of public records unless a single requested record exceeds 500 pages.”

    Is that crystal clear?

    No.

    It will be interpreted by taxing districts, lawyers, State Attorney General’s office, BGA, Citizen’s Advocacy Center, and courts.

    The major problem is it gives another tool in the tool belt of taxing districts whom decide they want to stonewall citizen FOIA requests.

    And if you think that doesn’t happen talk to the States Attorney General office, Better Government Association, and Citizen Advocacy Center.

    That’s the biggest problem in a nutshell.

    To further describe the problem, in some taxing districts, you pretty much have to know the answer to the question, before you ask the question, to properly construct the FOIA request.

    Althoff also points out the following.

    “This legislation will increase government transparency by allowing public bodies to more efficiently respond to FOIA requests for information that is available on the internet while giving public bodies more time and flexibility to deal with voluminous FOIA requests.”

    Here’s the problem with that sentence.

    It does not say the information on the internet has to be in a searchable format, in an easy to find location, with a title easily identified and understood by the average citizen.

    Most people have no problem obtaining the information from a URL as opposed to an email attachment, as long as it’s the information they desire.

    So that sentence as written favors taxing districts not FOIA requesters.

    Now another problem, which is also not addressed in PA 98-1129, is that many taxing districts ignore state laws requiring the taxing district to post information on the taxing district website.

    So then the citizen requester has to contact the taxing district to obtain the information that is required by state law to be on the taxing district website.

    And there is no penalty to the taxing district for not placing the information required by state law on the taxing district website.

    And some taxing districts will not respond to such citizen requests, until the citizen files a FOIA request.

    And during the whole runaround, the taxing district employee is getting paid, while the citizen requester is doing this on their unpaid personal time.

    Here’s some more information about that.

    School districts are amongst the worst offenders.

    Many school districts do not post documents required by state law on their website such as collective bargaining agreements, teacher and administrator salary and benefit information, salary and benefit information or employees earning over $75K whom contribute to the IMRF pension fund, and more.

    And when school districts do post the collective bargaining agreements or salary and benefit information, they often have one of the following problems.

    1. The documents are not indefinitely archived on the district website.

    2. The documents are not in a searchable format, rather a non searchable (image) format.

    3. The collective bargaining agreements are not complete, rather missing addendums, amendments, memorandums of understanding (MoU), appendixes, riders, side letters, etc.

    4. There is never a change document collective bargaining agreement, containing strikethroughs for deletions and underlined text for additions. For comparison and as a precedent, bills on the General Assembly website contains strikethroughs for deletions and underlined text for additions.

    4. The documents are cryptically titled with only the Public Act Number (no description) and thus hard to find.

    5. The documents are clearly titled yet still hard to find on the district website.

    6. Less often but it does happen, the documents for some mysterious reason will not open.

    7. The current document is not on the taxing district website, just a previous version of the document.

    The current laws have no meaningful consequence to taxing districts whom ignore or violate current FOIA laws.

    In another instance, if a citizen appeals a FOIA denial to the state attorney general’s office, and the state attorney general’s office finds the FOIA denial should be overturned, it’s not a binding decision, meaning the taxing district does not have to comply with the state attorney general’s decision.

    Also, when taxing districts fulfill a FOIA, why don’t they put the FOIA results on the district website.

    Some taxing districts do that.

    Not many.

    And the taxing district certainly does not need to put the FOIA requester’s name on the website, just the question asked and the results is sufficient.

    The above is a starting list, but there’s so much more that Althoff could do to increase government transparency and efficiency.

    How about any and all public sector collective bargaining agreements, at the state, county, and local levels, are required to be posted online, and that includes any modifications to the agreement including but not limited to amendments, addendums, appendixes, memorandums of understanding (MoU), letters of agreement, riders, side letters, etc; in a searchable format (as opposed to non-searchable image format), in an easy to find location (not buried layers past the home page), in an easy to identify title (not PA-xxxx, rather, Salary and Benefits Report, for example).

    How about basic information about every single public sector pension fund (including all local police and fire pension funds) is required to be posted online.
    How about the salary and pension history of all public sector employees is required to be posted online.

    How about itemized pay for every single public sector employee is required to be posted online in a spreadsheet, including itemized columns for each unique source of pay for each employee such as: base salary, stipends, pension pickup, sick days, overtime, bonus, employer healthcare contribution, etc. with no “other” category, instead itemize everything.

    Here’s a previous McHenry County Blog post about HB 3796 / PA 98-1129.

    Legislature Set to Override Freedom of Information Restriction Veto
    Posted on 11/17/2014 by Cal Skinner

    http://mchenrycountyblog.com/2014/12/24/althoff-comments-on-foia-modification-bill-she-sponsored

  4. Regarding SB 2799, the FOIA bill which did not pass.

    SB 2799 did not start out as a FOIA bill.

    Here is the history.

    Introduced 1/30/2014 by Sen. William R. Haine: Transfer of the Senior Health Insurance Program to the Department on Aging.

    Amended 5/23/2014 by Rep. Robyn Gabel: The Personnel Code is amended by changing Section 4c as follows.

    Amended 5/29/2014 by Rep. Robyn Gabel: The Illinois Power Agency Act is amended by changing Section 1-56 as follows.

    Amended 11/25/2014 by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie: The Freedom of Information Act is amended by changing Sections 7 and 11 as follows.

    That should be illegal.

    Hopefully all high schoolers, most middle schoolers, and some elementary kids know that makes no sense.

    If you want to introduce a new bill, then introduce a new bill.

    Don’t change an existing bill to be something entirely different.

    http://www.ilga.gov > Bills & Resolutions > 98th General Assembly Legislation > Senate Bills 2799.

    It’s ridiculous.

  5. Moving from SB 2799 to HB 3796.

    Once again HB 3796 became Public Act 98-1129.

    PA 98-1129 introduces a new term into FOIA law.

    Voluminous Request.

    Prior to PA 98-1129, there was no mention of voluminous request.

    What is a voluminous request?

    Here’s how it’s defined in the state law.

    (h) “Voluminous request” means a request that: (i) includes more than 5 individual requests for more than

    5 different categories of records or a combination of individual requests that total requests for more

    than 5 different categories of records in a period of 20 business days; or (ii) requires the compilation

    of more than 500 letter or legal-sized pages of public records unless a single requested record exceeds

    500 pages.”

    Is that crystal clear?

    No.

  6. It will be interpreted by taxing districts, lawyers, State Attorney General’s office, BGA, Citizen’s Advocacy Center, and courts.

    The major problem is it gives another tool in the tool belt of taxing districts whom decide they want to stonewall citizen FOIA requests.

    And if you think that doesn’t happen talk to the States Attorney General office, Better Government Association, and Citizen Advocacy Center.

    That’s the biggest problem in a nutshell.

    To further describe the problem, in some taxing districts, you pretty much have to know the answer to the question, before you ask the question, to properly construct the FOIA request.

    Althoff also points out the following.

    “This legislation will increase government transparency by allowing public bodies to more efficiently respond to FOIA requests for information that is available on the internet while giving public bodies more time and flexibility to deal with voluminous FOIA requests.”

    Here’s the problem with that sentence.

    It does not say the information on the internet has to be in a searchable format, in an easy to find location, with a title easily identified and understood by the average citizen.

    Most people have no problem obtaining the information from a URL as opposed to an email attachment, as long as it’s the information they desire.

    So that sentence as written favors taxing districts not FOIA requesters.

  7. Now another problem, which is also not addressed in PA 98-1129, is that many taxing districts ignore state laws requiring the taxing district to post information on the taxing district website.

    So then the citizen requester has to contact the taxing district to obtain the information that is required by state law to be on the taxing district website.

    And there is no penalty to the taxing district for not placing the information required by state law on the taxing district website.

    And some taxing districts will not respond to such citizen requests, until the citizen files a FOIA request.

    And during the whole runaround, the taxing district employee is getting paid, while the citizen requester is doing this on their unpaid personal time.

    Here’s some more information about that.

    School districts are amongst the worst offenders.

    Many school districts do not post documents required by state law on their website such as collective bargaining agreements, teacher and administrator salary and benefit information, salary and benefit information of employees earning over $75K whom contribute to the IMRF pension fund, and more.

  8. And when school districts do post the collective bargaining agreements or salary and benefit information, They often have one of the following problems.

    1. The documents are not indefinitely archived on the district website.

    2. The documents are not in a searchable format, rather a non searchable (image) format.

    3. The collective bargaining agreements are not complete, rather missing addendums, amendments, Memorandums of understanding (MoU), appendixes, riders, side letters, etc.

    4. There is never a change document collective bargaining agreement, containing strikethroughs for deletions and underlined text for additions. For comparison and as a precedent, bills on the General Assembly website contains strikethroughs for deletions and underlined text for additions.

    4. The documents are cryptically titled with only the Public Act Number (no description) and thus hard to find.

    5. The documents are clearly titled yet still hard to find on the district website.

    6. Less often but it does happen, the documents for some mysterious reason will not open.

    7. The current document is not on the taxing district website, just a previous version of the document.

  9. The current laws have no meaningful consequence to taxing districts whom ignore or violate current FOIA laws.

    In another instance, if a citizen appeals a FOIA denial to the state attorney general’s office, and the state attorney general’s office finds the FOIA denial should be overturned, it’s not a binding decision, meaning the taxing district does not have to comply with the state attorney general’s decision.

    Also, when taxing districts fulfill a FOIA, why don’t they put the FOIA results on the district website.

    Some taxing districts do that.

    Not many.

    And the taxing district certainly does not need to put the FOIA requester’s name on the website, just the question asked and the results is sufficient.

    The above is a starting list, but there’s so much more that Althoff could do to increase government transparency and efficiency.

    How about any and all public sector collective bargaining agreements, at the state, county, and local levels, are required to be posted online, and that includes any modifications to the agreement including but not limited to amendments, addendums, appendixes, memorandums of understanding (MoU), letters of agreement, riders, side letters, etc; in a searchable format (as opposed to non-searchable image format), in an easy to find location (not buried layers past the home page), in an easy to identify title (not PA-xxxx, rather, Salary and Benefits Report, for example).

    How about basic information about every single public sector pension fund (including all local police and fire pension funds) is required to be posted online.
    How about the salary and pension history of all public sector employees is required to be posted online.

    How about itemized pay for every single public sector employee is required to be posted online in a spreadsheet, including itemized columns for each unique source of pay for each employee such as: base salary, stipends, pension pickup, sick days, overtime, bonus, employer healthcare contribution, etc. with no “other” category, instead itemize everything.

    Here’s a previous McHenry County Blog post about HB 3796 / PA 98-1129.

    Legislature Set to Override Freedom of Information Restriction Veto
    Posted on 11/17/2014 by Cal Skinner

    http://mchenrycountyblog.com/2014/11/17/legislature-set-to-override-freedom-of-information-restriction-veto

  10. Why is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) so important.

    We are in the information age.

    We need information to make proper decisions.

    In too many instances, we do not have the information we need to make proper decisions.

    We do not have the information we need to explain to people what is happening.

    We do not have the information we need to make informed votes.

    It takes too long to get the information.

    Too many taxing districts have special interests internally and externally that benefit by making it difficult for citizens to obtain information.

    A just one example, but the most significant financial hurdle the state faces, that is a major reason why so many legislative benefit hikes and local pay hikes (administrator contracts and collective bargaining agreements) have spiked pensions and retiree healthcare to unaffordable levels.

    As another example, we now have the EMMA MSRB site for public sector municipal bonds (that site didn’t exist, or at least not in its present format, until a few years ago.

    But we still have taxing districts who play lots of games with bonds.

    Hide and seek, kick the can.

  11. Althoff ……… the pretty mask has been ripped off of her ugly, Big_Government face.

    She must be exposed for the liar she for her latest outrage.

  12. Mark thanks for being the peoples FOIA.

    Your slapping them a million times across there arrogant faces.

    Stonewalling.

    Discouraging.

    Intimidation.

    Sandbagging.

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