SportsPlex Opponents Appeal to Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor

Drawing of the main building on the proposed SportsPlex.

When the Upper Illinois River Valley Development Authority was meeting somewhere near I-80 was meeting to approve the bonds for the McHenry County SportsPlex in Lakewood, it didn’t seem like it was worth the time to drive down to see what was happening.

After all, with Lakewood Village Trustee Blake Hobson on the board, it was a foregone conclusion that the bonds would be approved. (Hobson chided me for imputing too much influence to him after the Lakewood Village Board meeting.)

Now, I have received a copy of a December 6th email to Lisa Madigan’s Public Counselor. It contains complaints about

  • the timeliness and content (or lack thereof) of information requested by Pleasant Valley Road’s Larry Larson, and
  • whether the meeting was proceeded by the appropriate legal notice.

Perhaps you can read in some of what happened at the meeting that was not contained elsewhere.

Carra Smith, Public Access Counselor:

Dear Ms Smith,

Please consider the first part a FOIA Request for Review and the second part an OMA Request for Review

This is a Request for a FOIA Request for Review:

I need the help and advice of your office.  I submitted (copy above) a FOIA request to Mr. Hamilton of URIVDA on November 8th, 2010 requesting 3 documents.

I received a letter from him on November 15th asking for a 5 day extension of time because he is the only staff person under contract to URIVDA.  He stated that an extension until November 22 would give him sufficient time to properly fulfill my inquiry.

One part of the material I had asked for is a copy of the application submitted to URIVDA for the McHenry County Sports Plex.  I never received anything on the other two items I requested.

On November 30th I received a letter from Mr. Hamilton stating he received my check for $2.24.  He had requested postage before he could mail me the information.

In this letter he states he has enclosed the material I have requested.  He further states that based upon the FOIA ACT (5 ILCS 1400/7)  he can redact information that is exempt from disclosure and URIVDA believes parts of the information I requested fall under the exemption because of a letter sent in with the application stating the information is confidential.

The information I received is:

  • his cover letter,
  • A typical page provided by the Authority. Click to enlarge.

    a copy of the applicant’s letter stating the information is confidential, and 48 pages with almost every word blacked, I have attached these documents but only the first and last page of the application.  If you need me to supply you with the other 46 pages of blacked out documents, let me know.  Even the date is blacked out.  I find it very hard to believe that ALL the blacked out parts could cause competitive harm. Some, yes but not all.  Did UIRVDA overstep it authority?

This part is an OMA Request for Review:

Secondly, on December 7, 2010 I attended a TEFRA hearing of URIVDA and asked Mr. Hamilton about the notice of public hearing for the TEFRA Hearing, when it was published and where, his response was for me to put it in writing and he would get me that information.  I had previously checked the newspapers and was unable to find any published notice.

I also asked for a copy of the bond resolution they were voting on today and he again stated to put it in writing and he would get me a copy.  I did not receive anything from him today.

My question is

  • is all the information I asked for at the URIVDA hearing and meeting public or private?
  • Does the public not have a right to obtain copies of the information that is being discussed at a public meeting?
  • Also, after the board votes upon resolutions, does that information become public or remain private forever?

I feel my rights as a citizen were violated today and also in my FOIA request, and would appreciate it if you could look into this.

Obviously, it goes without saying that if URIVDA acted inappropriately, then I would think the due process of their meeting would be affected.

I look forward to your comments.  If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact me.

Thank you in advance.

Larry Larson

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