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.