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August 10, 2022

Effingham County violates FOIA – State’s Attorney now involved

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On April 12, 2017

Effingham Co. (ECWd) –

In light of the ambulance contract the county recently entered into, and the public outcry over concerns on how that process was handled, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

My request was sent March 30th, 2017, and we have had zero response from the county until today and only because we got the State’s Attorney involved.  The following is what was requested.

  • A copy of written request addressed to the clerk of the board for a special meeting of the county board that reflects one-third of the members of the board making said request for a special meeting as required by law for the last three special meetings held by the County Board.  
  • A copy of written notice to each member of the board informing them a special meeting has been called by one-third of the members of the board for the last three special meetings held by the County Board.
  • A copy of the notice of such meeting published in the newspaper as required by law for the last three special meetings held by the County Board.
  • A copy of the recording (audio/video) of the last special meeting where the Ambulance Settlement agreement was acted on.
  • A copy of the settlement agreement voted on by the board.
  • A copy of the agenda for the special meeting where the Ambulance settlement agreement was acted on.
  • A copy of e-mail addresses for all County elected officials.  

Considering it appeared our request was being ignored, as it is well past due the statutory time frame, we reached out to State’s Attorney Brian Kibler.  Shortly after contacting his office we received the following notification from his office.

Kirk, I just spoke with the County Clerk, Kerry Hirtzel, and he informed me that you would be receiving an email regarding your FOIA request.  If you have any other questions, please let me know.

CORRECTION/UPDATE:  I appreciate the response, however, we believe it is fair to ask, is the State’s Attorney going to exercise his power to hold them accountable and prosecute the FOIA violation as Official Misconduct or will he ultimately end up defending them in what is a clear violation of our law pertaining to access of public records?

We have reason to believe the response is going to expose other laws being violated and we will report on that once they provide the requested information.
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11 Comments
  • jannie
    Posted at 18:39h, 12 April

    yes, the state attorney should be involved, though speaking from my own experience with an OMA violation which has taken 6 months and has not been resolved — I know State Attorney office must be backlogged.

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 21:18h, 12 April

      jannie, I think you may be referring to the Attorney General, which does take forever. It was the State’s Attorney’s office that responded in this situation.

  • jannie
    Posted at 07:00h, 13 April

    oh, yes you are right, my miswrite

  • Madison Black
    Posted at 07:58h, 13 April

    The FOIA request is pretty straight forward. Why the reluctance to respond?

    The Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, has no other recourse but to aid the Watch Dogs in this matter.

    As I often mention, what is there to hide? You wonder if providing this information to the Watch Dogs sheds light on some mischief??

  • Warren J. Le Fever
    Posted at 09:01h, 13 April

    The answer “you would be receiving an email regarding your FOIA request.” sounds like a put off to me. Had he said your request is being answered, then there’s no problem. Such a statement means that apparently there’s more to the story they would prefer you didn’t expose.

  • Lucas L.
    Posted at 16:02h, 13 April

    It is not the district attorney’s job to prosecute civil violations. It is your responsibility to file suit. DA would be involved if you uncover criminal activity as a result of your FOIA request.

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 16:08h, 13 April
      • Kirk Allen
        Posted at 16:12h, 13 April

        Lucas, I did not say it was his place to prosecute. I said he is involved. He is the legal counsel for those that violated the law. He will have to defend them if a suit is brought.

        • Lucas L.
          Posted at 16:38h, 13 April

          You did actually…. “is the State’s Attorney going to exercise his power to hold them accountable and prosecute the FOIA violation”

          • Kirk Allen
            Posted at 16:47h, 13 April

            LOL! I see what you mean and I should have clarified better. The prosecution would not be a FOIA case but a criminal case for Intentionally or recklessly failing to perform any mandatory duty as required by law. (Official Misconduct)

            I refereanced other laws that we belive were violated and today we now have confrimation that is in fact the case.

            Clarification correction provided in teh article.

  • Tee Pardy
    Posted at 11:22h, 14 April

    You boys is doin Gods work.

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