Glenview, IL. (ECWd) –
After receiving a tip of an unusual FOIA response from the Glenview Public Library, I submitted my own to see if the same response came back to me.
The Glenview Library responded to my Freedom of Information Act request for public records by claiming two things:
- – That I did not “prove” I would not use the document for commercial purposes, and,
- – That I did not provide any information concerning the principal purpose of the request.
Based on that, they placed my in a commercial requester category and claim they have 21 days to provide the records. Wrong.
The Freedom of Information Act does not require a requester to “prove” anything. It does require a requester to state whether the request is commercial or non-commercial “if asked”, but there is nothing that mandates proof of non-commercial status. After all, how would a normal person “prove” what he would or would not do with a public record after he received it? Other than simply stating it is not for commercial purposes, there really is no proof that can be provided. I did state it was noncommercial when I requested the information. I complied with Section 3.1(c).
Oh, the other things they can do with a commercial request? Charge extra fees, like $10 per hour to search for and retrieve records (after the first 8 hours), charge for retrieving off-site stored documents. Now you know why they attempt to place everyone under a commercial request.
Next, nothing in the Act requires anyone to provide any information concerning the principal purpose of the request (unless using the “News Media” exception to commercial requests). However, with my specifically stating “this is not a commercial request”, the news media exception did not apply – even though it was also included in the request.
Their own suggested FOIA request form doesn’t even ask for proof of anything, so am I to believe that if I had used their own form, nothing would be required to be proven?
One thing we have noticed in the years we have been looking at public bodies and public officials, is that when their first reaction is to fight against disclosing public records, there must be something that needs looked at. So, congrats Glenview Public Library, you have piqued our interest!