FOIA’s, Inquiring Minds Want To Know

You’ve heard the old saying, “It’s not easy to fight city hall”. It still applies. However now there’s another saying in Naperville, “It’s not easy to work with city hall.” Naperville city officials do not make it easy for open communication and cooperation with its residents. Typically if a resident sends an email, they don’t get a response. If they call, they don’t get a return call. If they speak during public forum at council meetings, they get rebuffed or dismissed. If they request an answer, they are directed to submit a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). If they submit a FOIA, they are ridiculed for wasting money (our own tax dollars), and wasting staff time. You get the idea.

City hall has the money (our tax dollars), the muscle (ordinances and the police), and clout (demonizing residents who disagree with city officials). While residents have only two tools to keep local officials in line; the vote and the FOIA. It’s no wonder that most city officials try to restrict residents from voting (Smart Meters). And if residents are successful in getting the opportunity to vote, and the vote doesn’t go in favor of the city council, city officials encourage a do-over vote on the same issue (District representation).

The Freedom Of Information Act allows citizens the opportunity to find out what politicians would rather they not find out. Politicians tend to get careless in their communication, be it written in email fashion, or in the inky shadows of smoke filled corridors. It’s also been said that you don’t need a good memory if what you’re saying is truthful. It’s only when one is speaking in non-truths that an impeccable memory is vital.

Watch and listen as Naperville councilman Joe McElroy mentions FOIA requests regarding Marquette Properties (developer of Water Street Project), Kathy West (local attorney for Marquette Properties), and Tim West (Naperville Sun writer and Kathy West’s spouse).

Who knows why there would be FOIA requests for those three? In fact, who would even know that FOIA requests were submitted for them? Once Joe broadcast that reality, it becomes a brain teaser. What’s the connection? Could it be that Kathy West’s law firm is located in that prime piece of Water Street property? Could it be that Tim West would like to see the Water Street Project become a reality? Could it be that Naperville city council candidates Tom Glass and Jo Malik, do not support the Waterstreet Project, Smart Meters, or the do-over vote for district representation, all things that Tim West appears to prefer. Who knows? But that’s the beauty of FOIA’s.

I do know that Kathy West is a very good and caring attorney, and she has helped many clients over the years. I also know that Tim West has been and is a journalistic fixture in the city of Naperville at the Naperville Sun. It takes a lot of straight and sideways thinking to write for more than 40 years.

Based on McElroy’s exchange with city clerk Pam LaFeber, what’s really interesting is:

  • the city ‘spends’ $50 per hour in researching FOIA requests…seems a bit outrageous and inefficient.
  • That only 150 FOIA requests have been made during the last two years, or about one every five days for a city of over 140,000 residents. Considering city officials have made so many bad decisions, one would think they’d be getting a FOIA request every hour.

Now watch and listen to Naperville councilman Grant Wehrli who is all for transparency, “but”….

Considering the massive amount of dollars wasted by the Naperville city council along with the city manager, what the city is spending on citizen FOIA requests is a bargain.

Show 5 Comments


  1. Taggart

    Integrity promotes the citizen trust of elected officials and newspapers. Mr. West’s column took a swing at candiates, who were not in favor of the Waterstreet Project last week. He claims that he couldn’t remember which candidate cautioned Napervillians. He also “forgot” to disclose that his wife was representing the Waterstreet project. Would keeping the city “moving forward” be in Mr. West’s best interests, especially regarding the Waterstreet Project?

    Reagrding integrity, how about Mr. Krause and Mr. Hinterlong removing their election signs that are violating city ordinances? Apparently, code enforcement went to a private citizens home and threatened that family with fines if they didn’t remove an election sign, for non-incumbent candiates, because of the size. Somehow, Mr. Krieger isn’t enforcing the sign size requirement on Mr. Krause nor Mr. Hinterlong. Since the city uses police force to enforce other ordinances, with full approval of council, wouldn’t you think that the incumbent candiates at least respect all city ordinances as a good example for all? Or does their personal ambition to be re-elected superseed the law?

  2. Judy

    I was in attendance that night and found the coucil group deplorable. What a joke !!! Moved here because I thought the town housed some intelligence, not only for my children (now college graduates), but myself in having to make a decision to remain in the town because of an intellectual approach to living optimism and the avoidance of self promoting politicians who care nothing for the residents that continue to support and build greater ideals.

    The vision is to build dreams on upstanding and honorable principles that guide and direct our children as well in a greater and well founded hope for the future.

    What is Council trying to demonstrate here ??? What further hidden agendas are they hiding from us ??? Why are they trying to protect one another ??? How is it they’re allowed to create and continue with their money laundering scheme that doesn’t fall too short from the hidden tyranny plots of the Chicago City Council ??

    This Council and perhaps future councils elected in this town, do not fall short from the Marquis de Sade of masking and filtering out the real truths that are prevented from those who have built this town and continue to help it thrive

  3. Jo Malik

    Time after time citizens have stood in front of this city council and been told to submit FOIA requests to get answers to their questions. And now this council has the nerve to complain that citizens are following their instructions.

    If the city were truly as transparent as their “Sunshine” and Unicorns award says they are, no one would have to FOIA anything.

    And as for Councilman Wehrli stating that all we have to do is ask, I am still waiting for a report he said he would send me from back in December!
    The FOIA I submitted regarding campaign signs proved just what I suspected, he did not issue one single complaint about any other candidates signs but mine. Open and honest, fair and impartial, I hardly think so.

    Remember to VOTE on APRIL 9th to Upgrade the City Council

  4. Gerard H Schilling

    Amazing how city council (the 9-0 gang) that meet before every council meeting and agree on what they are going to do before the meetings can complain about citizens who have a right to know how they are being manipulated and how the full resources of the city can and are being used to attack them.

    As to the cost estimates for FOIAs these are fixed costs where employees are being paid salaries and benefits whether they are figuring how to raise our taxes and fees or explaining why they already have! The city just hired a third Public Relations type to burnish their pathetic image at the tax payer expense. Where is their concern for cost?

    When they continue to waste millions on useless projects like smart meters, electric car charging stations, bell towers, test track for new cars etc. while running up our obligation bonds and unfunded pension liabilities to over ¼ billion dollars they have a lot of guts complaining about FOIA costs.

    It is past time to change out this crew with people who respect their citizen’s rights to know how they are spending our money and are fiscally responsible. Vote for Tom Glass and Jo Malik to end this nonsense and abuse..

  5. Dismayd

    Fiesler wants to discontinue the city’s use of email? This is a stroke of genius! Going forward, I am thoroughly convinced that ALL of the Naperville councilmen would happily adopt this plan to avoid the possibility of being held responsible for any of the ill-conceived thoughts they might otherwise have felt necessary to commit to writing. Now that’s the kind of forward thinking this city desperately needs!

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