WHEELING, IL. (ECWd) -
The Village of Wheeling, Illinois received my request for public records, which included a request for surveillance video over a 3-day time-frame:
"I request video surveillance from the first floor lobby of Village Hall or from any other first floor surveillance camera, regardless of whether it is mounted inside or outside of Village Hall that will show the arrival and departure of every elected official of Wheeling; of any Village attorney; and of village manager, Jon Sfondilis beginning at 7am on Monday, June 19 through 7pm on Wednesday, June 21. Please provide a 60 second margin before and after the entry and exit of each."
Wheeling responded with a request to narrow the scope of the request, which I did, but they also made up a new definition of "public record" to suit their own needs of keeping things from the public.
" The Village's decision to use and its placement of security cameras is a function of a property owner, not a government"
I will have to say, Wheeling gets an "A" for creativity at the same time it gets an "F" for failing to comply with FOIA. They must think that the Village owning the property doesn't make it a function of government? I am supposed to ignore the part about "The Village's decision..."
They should patent that phrase and all it encompasses, maybe even expand on the idea. Think of how easy FOIA would become for every governmental body in the state.
Here are some fun ways they could expand on their idea:
- the Village's decision to allow its former Mayor Argiris to use the village's credit card for personal and private business purposes was a function of a credit card holder, not a government...
- the Village's decision to allow its former Mayor Argiris to use the village's vehicle for personal use and private business use was a function of a vehicle owner, not a government...
- the Village's decision to [insert problem here] was a function of [insert excuse here], not a government...
Maybe they could carry it one step further, and use it during open meetings:
- the Village's decision to not allow public comment at the meeting was a function of the microphone owner, not as a function of government
Do you see how absolutely insane their excuse is for not provide camera footage for the time-frame asked?
A similar excuse was provided for electronic swipe card information:
"[Swipe Cards] are not public records as they do not relate to the transaction of Village business. When an employee enters a single entry point of a building does not relate to the transaction of the Village's business as it provides no actual information or data about work performed by an employee."
Wow. They could use the same excuse for I-pass toll card information, or timecard information, or computer log information, etc...
The bottom line here, is that electronic card swipe information and camera footage are public records and they do have to provide the requested records. Apparently it will take a Judge to force them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.
(c) "Public records" means all records, reports, forms, writings, letters, memoranda, books, papers, maps, photographs, microfilms, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data processing records, electronic communications, recorded information and all other documentary materials pertaining to the transaction of public business, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been prepared by or for, or having been or being used by, received by, in the possession of, or under the control of any public body.
I don't see their definition of a public record within the definition provided by the legislature and signed into law. The above paragraph partially explains "pertaining to the transaction of public business" as (1) having been prepared by or for, or, (2) having been or being used by, or, (3) received by, or, (4) in the possession of, or, (5) under the control of. . . any public body.