Clark Co., IL. (ECWd) -
Another statement from what appears to be a coordinated effort at discrediting those citizens who desire access to public records, and who publish their findings, the Clark County Park District attorney, Lorna Geiler apparently told the board something that the public could not hear - but Gary Strohm "heard it" LOL.
"Tens of Thousands spent on FOIA legal fees"
Really? "Tens of thousands" implies at least $20,000 to qualify as "tens" of thousands.
"According to the July 21, 2015 Marshall Advocate, the Park attorney, Lorna Geiler, told the board that “tens of thousands” of dollars of her legal fees over the past year have been related to FOIA requests."
Since Strohm won’t tell his readers, I will: The article was written by Gary Strohm, current Clark County Park District Finance Committeeman, who’s business partner is Commissioner Ron Stone. That might give you an insight as to how this was reported.
We run across this same type of statement at every public body we deal with, and none of them have been able to prove their claims. It is all a public relations move to try and swing public opinion into thinking the public body has become the victim of "bad" people, which is simply not true.
I have submitted a FOIA request to the Park District to attempt to validate this claim of "tens of thousands" since no proof was shown when the claim was made. If current Park District actions continue, sometime in the next 6 months I will receive the answer to that FOIA request, but only after they incur more legal fees.
The bottom line in this situation is that Charity Murphy, the Executive Director, is the person causing all of the FOIA legal fees by not complying with the law. It is not that difficult and there is generally no need to consult an attorney when answering FOIA requests...that is, unless you have something to hide from the public. Truth be told, she spends more time fixing the FOIA "mistakes", than it would take to simply provide the public records when asked.
One of these days, this board will figure out they do not have a choice when it comes to providing public records.
Nearly all of the FOIA legal fees are simply the result of Charity Murphy not knowing her job as FOIA Officer, or attempting to keep things from the public in which they end up providing after incurring the legal fees.