For two years, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been fighting to keep the public from seeing a public document on the use of taxpayer resources.
That may not sound fitting for the mayor who has repeatedly promised to create “the most open, accountable, and transparent government that the City of Chicago has ever seen.” But it’s the truth—as I can attest after suing the city over the issue, and then listening to city attorneys make a series of arguments in court against releasing the three-year-old report on police staffing.
Yet the issue goes well beyond a single obscure—and, by this time, potentially outdated—document from 2010. On Friday the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the city was required to disclose the report—and in doing so, the court appears to have strengthened the state’s Freedom of Information Act in favor of openness for citizens and the press.
Mayors can’t publicly tout their work to improve the city, then turn around and claim the records of that work are private. Well, they probably will, but now it might be a little harder for them to get away with it.
As the justices put it: “Clearly, any notion the report was not identified within the meaning of the FOIA cannot be seriously entertained.”