Piatt Co. (ECWd) -
November 9th, 2018 I sent this Freedom of Information Act request to the Village of Hammond. Based on what we reported in this article regarding the Village of Hammond, it is apparent some of these elected officials are failing their community by not following the law.
In the November 9th, FOIA request were two items which should have been no problem to produce, Open Meetings Act (OMA) training certificates for the elected officials and the FOIA training certificate for the FOIA officer or their designee.
Response November 13, 2018 - "My apologies! I'm going to answer and/or attach what you've requested. I have tried several times to scan the Certificates of Completion, but they are not scanning properly. Can I fax those to you?"
Telling me you are going to answer and/or attach what I have requested is a confirmation they possess the records requested.
After letting them I know I do not have a fax, they mailed the records, or so they claimed. I recieved by US Mail, a package that contained a cover letter that stated in the first paragraph:
"Please find enclosed the Certificate of Completion for myself, the Village President, and the current Board of Trustees, per your FOIA request. If there is anything else I can do for you, please don't hesitate to contact me."
The letter confirms the requested records for the "current" Board of Trustees is being provided, yet that is not what was found in the package.
There are 6 trustees and the Mayor, making 7 people that are obligated by law to take the OMA training. What the Village produced were a whopping 3 certificates for OMA training compliance for the Trustees and President. Of those 3, the President's was dated 3 days "after" my request, which indicates he was not in compliance with the law yet he is the President of the Village. Trustees Burgner and Waldrop had complied in August of 2017.
There was no proof of compliance with the OMA training for the remaining trustees, Adcock, Gee, Brown, and Frantz.
My request for the FOIA training certificates for the FOIA officers or the designee resulted in an interesting response. Keep in mind my request was dated November 9th, 2018.
I'm curious how the Village had problems scanning documents and then assuring me they are going to be mailed on November 13th when, in fact, one of those records had not even been created yet?
- FOIA Training - Micheal Brown - November 15, 2018 - AFTER my request
The other three FOIA officers or designees had not complied with their training prior to my request according to the dates on the provided certificates.
- FOIA Training - Trustee Bradley W Frantz - November 13, 2018 - AFTER my request
- FOIA Training - Trustee Kimberly A Gee - November 13, 2018 - AFTER my request
- FOIA Training - Clerk/Treasure Brenda S Sebens - November 12, 2018 - AFTER my request
That means that the FOIA triggered only the President to comply with OMA training. The remaining 4 trustees who apparently have not taken their training, even after being alerted to the requirement, should resign.
When a group of people steps up to run for office it means little when they fail to comply with the most basic obligations of office. When they refuse to follow the law and ignore the very legal advice given to them it signals a time for a change. Resignations are in order for those unwilling to follow our laws.
A copy of the response letter and applicable training certificates can be downloaded at this link or viewed below.