The Public Access Counselor of the Illinois Attorneys General Office just issued its first opinion of 2016 - and you guessed it, the PAC found the public body in violation. PAC Op. 16-001.
A reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times filed a FOIA request with the Chicago Police Department asking for "First Amendment-related worksheets" and emails and other communications relating to the Communist Party, Ferguson, the National Moment of Silence, and Black Lives Matter. Two weeks after he filed the request with the CPD, the reporter filed a complaint with the PAC claiming that the CPD failed to produce the records or respond to the request. Not surprisingly, the PAC found the CPD in violation of FOIA where the CPD did not produce the records or extend the time period for response within the 5 business days required for response under FOIA.
As I've noted on this blog in the past, I wish the PAC would use its authority to issue binding opinions (which it exercises very rarely) to publish opinions that actually provide guidance to public bodies on complex or ambiguous provisions of FOIA or OMA instead of continuing to issue binding opinions in situations that are quite obvious to everyone. In any event, I think we've all seen enough binding opinions from the PAC that you have to respond to FOIA within the statutory time period or be found in violation.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf