Will Co. (ECWd) -
Township Clerks have one primary statute they have to deal with as it relates to Township operations. There are a few other applicable statutes dealing with the election process and the Road District duties, however, this Clerk has not been involved in any elections yet, and does next to nothing for the Road District.
According to Township Supervisor Joann Quigley, this clerk is "doing just fine..... most of the Clerk's I have spoken with said they are still learning and they have been at the job for multiple terms (4 years each term)."
Ms. Quigley, let me explain as briefly as I can why your Clerk is NOT doing "just fine".
The picture reflects a file with public records on the desk of the Township Clerk. As you can see, there are a few documents in the folder. Based on the title of the folder, we assume it is email correspondence in the folder.
In an effort to be specific so our FOIA request would not be confusing, I asked for these records and did so just as the title on the folder is labeled, misspelling and (All).
I received my response. In the first line of the response letter, it stated: "Attached please find the materials that are responsive to your request."
No records were attached to the email as the letter claims.
I keep reading the letter
"No Township Records Apply"
"The township has no public records exist responsive to this request."
Wait, stop the press. First it's: "attached please find the material that are responsive to your request", then it's "No Township Records Apply", followed with, "The township has no public records exist responsive to this request".
How is it that we have a photo of the file yet no records apply or exist? Ok, I get it, the folder must have blank pieces of paper in it, right? Oh wait, she said the records were attached?
Who's on First?
Continuing to read the letter I became perplexed as to what could possibly be going through this person's mind when they responded to my FOIA request.
"Wesley Township is committed to transparency in government. To the extent that we have documents responsive to your request, we have produced them. However, to the extent we do not have such documents, such as cancelled checks or payment receipts, your request is denied. I am the person responsible for the denial of your request. You may appeal this decision to the Public Access Counselor of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. The Public Access Counselor may be contacted at 1-877-299-FOIA or by correspondence to the Public Access Counselor, Office of the Illinois Attorney General, 500 S. 2nd Street, Springfield, IL 62702."
They have produced nothing and it appears they have a blanket denial for canceled checks or payment receipts.
Additionally, she has violated FOIA for failing to properly provide the requestor with mandated information pertaining to their rights. Specifically, "Each notice of denial shall inform such person of his right to judicial review under Section 11 of this Act."
The fact of the matter is there are public records in this folder because another citizen was able to obtain them the same day Sarah Norton improperly denied my request. That being the case, we consider the denial a willful and intentional denial of public records that are not exempt from production.
So Ms. Quigley, may we suggest that you resign in light of the claim you think Sarah Norton is doing "just fine"?
Next stop, Judicial Review under Section 11 of the FOI Act. See you in court.