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Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Public Body Did Not Waive Ability to Redact Records in FOIA Case


In a recent court ruling, the First District Appellate Court concluded that the Schaumburg Police Department did not waive its right to redact accident reports in response to a FOIA request even though the Department had previously provided unredacted copies of the same reports to a third-party vendor in order to comply with the Department's mandatory reporting obligations under the Vehicle Code. Mancini Law Group, P.C. v. Schaumburg Police Dep't,

Mancini Law Group, P.C. had sent a FOIA request to the Department seeking certain 2017 motor vehicle traffic accident reports. After the Village responded to the request by producing redacted accident reports, Mancini sued the Department, claiming the Department improperly redacted non-exempt information under FOIA, and alternatively, even if the Department’s redactions were proper, the Department waived its ability to assert FOIA exemptions because the Department previously provided unredacted accident reports to LexisNexis. The circuit court held that the Department’s redactions were proper and that the Department did not waive its right to redact the reports in response to Mancini’s FOIA request because the Department only provided unredacted accident reports under a contract with LexisNexis, an approved third-party vendor for the State of Illinois, as part of the Department’s mandatory reporting requirements under section 408 of the Illinois Vehicle Code. That statute requires the Department to file motor vehicle accident reports with the Secretary of State and the Department of Transportation. Mancini then appealed to the First District Appellate Court, which affirmed the circuit court’s judgement.

On appeal, Mancini argued that the Department’s voluntary disclosure of unredacted accident reports in one situation precluded the Department from withholding the same reports in response to Mancini’s FOIA request. Mancini relied on an Illinois Supreme Court's ruling that endorsed federal cases holding that “selective disclosure” by public bodies is offensive to the purposes of FOIA and intolerable as a matter of policy because “preferential treatment of persons or interest groups fosters precisely the distrust of government the FOIA was intended to obviate.” However, since LexisNexis was acting as the Department’s agent to help the Department fulfill its statutory reporting requirements, the appellate court concluded that the Department’s efforts to comply with a statutory reporting requirement were not comparable to the  “selective disclosure,” or “preferred treatment” condemned by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The appellate court also rejected Mancini claim that LexisNexis sells the Department’s unredacted reports for a fee to the public without restrictions, observing that only people providing specific information can purchase unredacted accident reports—either by being involved in the accident, representing someone involved in the accident, or being an insurance company identified as insuring someone involved in the accident.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

State Imposes New Restrictions on Illinois Regions


Regions 7 and 8 (Will, Kankakee, Kane, and DuPage Counties)

This afternoon, the Governor announced new mitigation efforts for Regions 7 and 8, which take effect on Friday, October 23, 2020. Region 7 includes Will and Kankakee Counties and Region 8 includes Kane and DuPage Counties. According to the Governor's press release, both regions have shown a positivity rate higher than 8%. 

The mitigation measures are the same for both Regions, and include the following:

Bars:  No indoor service at bars, and outside service must end at 11:00 p.m. Restrictions also include social distancing, table distancing, no dancing or standing indoors, and no seating of multiple parties at one table.

Restaurants:  No indoor dining at restaurants, and outdoor dining must end at 11:00 p.m. Other restrictions include table distancing, no standing or congregating indoors while waiting for a table, reservations required, and no seating of multiple parties at one table.

Meetings, Social Events, and Gatherings: Limited to lesser of 25 guests or 25% of the room capacity, no party buses, and casinos and gaming must end at 11:00 p.m. and limited to 25% capacity. 

Region 5 (Southern Illinois)

Earlier this week, new mitigation measures were announced for Region 5 (Southern Illinois) that place the same restrictions discussed above for Regions 7 and 8, and take effect on Thursday, October 22, 2020. 

Region 1 (Northwestern Illinois, including Rockford area)

At the beginning of October, similar mitigation measures were imposed on Region 1, which remain in effect. 

Regions 4 and 7 (Metro East and South Suburban)

In August, we reported on mitigation measures imposed on Regions 4 and 7. Those mitigation measures were lifted in September but yesterday's announcement means that this is the second time Region 7 is being restricted. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Court Issues Ruling in Lawsuit Challenging Election Day Closures


Last week, an Illinois circuit court issued a ruling in the case brought by the Illinois Municipal League (IML) against the State of Illinois to challenge the recent statute making November 3, 2020 (Election Day) a state holiday and requiring local government offices to close. The IML had argued that it was an unfunded mandate to municipalities, and the circuit court agreed in its ruling last week.

We have been asked whether the ruling extends beyond the two municipalities that were named as plaintiffs in the case (Southern View and Bolingbrook) to apply to other local governments. The ruling states that the statutory amendment that requires government offices to close on Election Day (i.e., Section 2B-10) "does not apply to local governments such as municipalities - including those municipalities that are members of IML and specifically, the Villages of Southern View and Bolingbrook." The IML has advised that the ruling provides each of its member municipalities the independent discretion to determine if their offices should or should not be closed on Election Day. The ruling itself seems broader in application, as it refers to "local governments" and not just municipalities. An appellate court ruling (or better yet, a statutory fix) would certainly help to provide some clarity, but given the short time period until Election Day, that may be unlikely. Local governments may want to reach out to their attorneys if they have questions about the ruling and how it applies to them.

You can read the decision on the IML's website here.  You can also read the IML's summary of the lawsuit and ruling here.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Qurum Forum Podcast 45: Housing and Homelessness


Planners and land use professionals will be interested in tuning into the most recent episode of Quorum Forum, Episode 45: Housing and Homelessness.  In this episode, partners David Silverman and Dan Bolin discuss the latest on accessory dwelling units, recent constitutional challenges to local ordinances affecting homeless populations, and answer questions about the latest legal issues affecting governments. 

You can watch the livestream recording here or listen and subscribe to the Quorum Forum Podcast here.  


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

IDPH COVID Guidance for Election Polling Places


Awhile back, the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) issued COVID-19 guidance for election polling places. You can read the guidance on the IDPH's website here. A summary of some of the key provisions are below:

1. Each local election authority (usually the county or election commission) must adopt a written COVID-19 prevention plan for each polling place in its jurisdiction that includes at a minimum the following:

  • Contact person for implementation of plan
  • Safety instructions and training on cleaning and disinfection
  • Physical distancing protocols
  • Worker monitoring plan
  • Policies for ensuring compliance with social distancing, mask wearing, and disinfection of all affected surfaces
2. Placement of signage at entrances regarding face coverings

3. Distancing of election officials and pooling booths at least 6 feet apart

4. Visual cues for social distancing of voters

5. Designated break areas that allows physical distancing

6. Consider outdoor enclosures for waiting voters or encourage voters to wait in cars

7. Consider curbside voting, if practical

8. Ensure ventilation systems are operating properly

9. Replace shared objects (pens, cards, ballot covers) with single-use objects, where possible

10. Provide face coverings for voters who arrive without them

11. Voters cannot be screened for COVID-19 at the polling place nor prohibited from voting even if they refuse to wear a face covering

12. Consider plexiglass barriers

13. Routine cleaning and disinfecting of electronics and frequently touched objects and surfaces

14. Provide hand sanitizer to voters

15. Poll workers must wear a face covering at all times and practice good hygiene (hand washing; hand sanitizer)


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Upcoming APA Webinar on Drones


APA Planning and Law Division in partnership with APA Learn is presenting a webinar on October 22nd on Drones. Information about the webinar and registration is below:

Sky's the Limit: Drone Regulatory Implications

Thursday, October 22, 2020 

12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. CT

CM and CLE credit

Aerial drones (sometimes described as “UAS” or “UAV”), have a host of planning applications across urban, regional, rural, and agricultural geographies. From a general aerial surveying perspective, these applications frequently include site analysis and visualization, GIS mapping and modeling, and photosimulations. 

Sub-disciplines within the planning field such as transportation, environmental, and disaster planning already utilize small drones’ aerial sensors for real-time data collection, infrastructure inspection, project management, and project development. These technologies can facilitate new ways of practicing community engagement. Given the broad applications of this technology across multiple planning disciplines, there is a general need for planners to enhance their awareness of relevant federal regulations, administrative guidance published by the Federal Aviation Administration, and court cases that collectively define the legal operation of small drones. Essentially, if you plan to use this technology in your planning practice, you must know the rules. 

While acknowledging there are still significant gaps in the legal landscape for small drone operation, this program will discuss useful precedents to help you develop a use-case that is most likely to protect your planning practice and elected officials.. Even though state and federal legislatures continue to debate the regulatory environment to operate small drones, there is some present-day certainty regarding what state and local government can — and cannot — regulate. 

Our expert panelists will explain the ways in which your city or state planning department could use small drones to enhance your planning efforts, prepare you to navigate the risks in the grey area, and offer insight on how to avoid the pitfalls.  


Information about speakers, cost, and registration can be found here.


Monday, October 5, 2020

IDPH Releases Halloween Guidance


We reported previously about the CDC's guidance on fall holidays, including Halloween. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has now released its own guidelines for fall activities, which supplement the recently-updated DCEO guidance on other seasonal staples, such as pumpkin patches, hayrides, and haunted houses. 

Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-treating is allowed, provided that groups are limited to household members, social distancing is maintained from other trick-or-treaters and people passing out candy, and that face coverings are worn in addition to any costume masks. The IDPH advises sticking to outdoor areas rather than multi-family buildings, frequent use of hand-sanitizer, and handwashing prior to consuming any candy. The IDPH also suggests some safer alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating. Instead of passing out candy at the door, the IDPH recommends putting out individually wrapped treats on a table more than six feet from the front door so that trick-or-treaters may help themselves. This method is also recommended in other settings, such larger-scale organized events involving tables set up with carefully-spaced candy in parking lots to avoid door-to-door travel.

Haunted Houses

Haunted houses are not allowed. The IDPH encourages open-air, one-way haunted forests or haunted walks where social distancing of 6 feet or greater and appropriate masking is enforced as an alternatives. Really scary haunted walks require increased social distancing due to the potential for screaming.

Pumpkin Patches/Apple Orchards

Attendance at outdoor pumpkin patches and apple orchards is limited to 25% capacity, with advance-purchase tickets advised. Indoor areas or rides of the sort that are sometimes featured at such locations must remain closed. Face coverings and social distancing are mandatory.

Hayrides

Hayrides are permitted up to 50% capacity with social distancing and face coverings required. The DCEO and IDPH both advise limiting hayride participants to members of the same household.

Adult Halloween Parties

The IDPH warns against large-scale parties and reiterates the 50-person limit for gatherings. While peole can visit bars (subject to regional or local restrictions), the IDPH provides a list of reasons why partaking in indoor costume parties is a bad idea and suggests avoiding such events, or minimizing the amount of time spent, together with the usual reminders to adhere to social distancing and face covering requirements.


Friday, October 2, 2020

Quorum Forum Podcast 44: APA-IL Planning Law Symposium


Ancel Glink's Quorum Forum Podcast just released its latest episode, Episode 44: APA-IL Planning Law Symposium.

The Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association just held its virtual 2020 State Conference featuring the APA-IL Planning Law Symposium presented by Ancel Glink's Quorum Forum podcast. Trevor Dick from the City of Aurora joined Ancel Glink partners ShawnTe Raines, David Silverman, and Dan Bolin to discuss important legal issues affecting planners, including pandemic-time public meetings, economic recovery tools, defending religious land use cases, and more. 

You can listen to the APA-IL Planning Law Symposium on the latest episode of Ancel Glink's Quorum Forum podcast here.