Pete Gonigam, Publisher of the First Electric Newspaper, sued McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nyrgen when the former top cop refused to release the report about an investigation of his Chief Deputy and chosen replacement Andy Zinke.
Mary Gardner was Gonigam’s attorney who sued after Nygren neglected to follow the non-binding recommendation of the Public Access Division of the Illinois Attorney General.
Here’s what the County Board will see:
Board / Committee Action Requested. Consideration of a resolution approving the settlement of the pending litigation, John Peter Gonigam, individually, and The First Electric Newspaper, LLC, an Illinois limited liability corporation v. Office of the Sheriff of McHenry County, Case number 13MR309 and authorization for the County to enter into a Settlement Agreement and Release is requested.
Background and Discussion: This proposed settlement agreement will release and discharge pending litigation against the County and MCSO stemming from an alleged violation of the Freedom of Information Act. This settlement agreement is not an admission of any liability or of unconstitutional or illegal conduct or violation of the FOIA by or on the part of the defendant. Rather, it is an acknowledgment of respective positions and a compromise to avoid further expense in connection with this suit and subsequent appeals.
Impact on Budget (Revenue; Expenses, Fringe Benefits): Since this matter is in connection with an alleged FOIA violation, the settlement, totaling $104,402.96, will be payable through the McHenry County General Fund OCA 900020-4570 (Non-departmental – Contingency). This is in addition to the previous civil penalty payment of $5,000 which was paid pursuant to a May 12, 2015 Court Order. [Emphasis added.]
Conformity to Board Ordinances, Policies and Strategic Plan…This settlement does conform to Board policies and authorizations.
The money will paid out of the contingency account of the County’s General Fund.
In July, the legal fees would have been $78,000. At the time, Gardner estimated an appeal of part of Judge Thomas Meyer’s decision would cost another $25,000 in legal fees.