Open, transparent government is a critical value in our system of government. Over the past several years, the City has refused to release material about important public policy matters, even when requested through the Freedom of Information Act process.  Such denials have led to litigation and delays in releasing information to the public. 

Will your administration commit to ensuring that city, and all of its agencies, promptly and completely respond to FOIA requests?   How will you act to implement your commitment?


Mayoral Questionnaire

I have always been committed to transparent, open government.  As Clerk of the Circuit Court, I have instructed my legal staff to reply to requests for information, even though the Office is not covered under the Freedom of Information Act.  As Mayor, I would require every city agency to submit monthly status reports on the number and nature of FOIA requests and identify expected dates of completion.  Periodically, I would have an independent auditor conduct a compliance audit of FOIA requests and hold agency heads accountable for failing to respond to requests in a timely manner. 


Mayoral Questionnaire

My records officers will be attorneys with thorough training in Illinois FOIA law and all legal opinions and casework on the matter. Too often employees who lack proper training take a “hide first, answer questions later” approach. No one is helped by this evasion and I will not tolerate it.




Mayoral Questionnaire

Good governance requires that requires that all groups, with particular attention to the most marginalized, have direct and representative access to the systems of government. It requires that citizens are provided, in user-friendly and easily accessible formats, the means and processes by which decisions are made. It further demands that institutions respond to their stakeholders within a reasonable time frame.




Mayoral Questionnaire
There are no excuses to delay FOIA requests. An open, transparent, and participatory city government should respect the media, civil rights groups, and civilians by allowing them to see what is happening behind the scenes. This is at the core of any democracy. We also need a truly independent Office of Inspector General.




Mayoral Questionnaire

I will enact a comprehensive policy so that all FOIA requests are followed through and fulfilled. This is a simply procedure change, where we will require all FOIA requests to be processed efficiently.


Mayoral Questionnaire
As set forth in my plan to clean up city government, my administration will comply with the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) and affirmatively and regularly disclose more information to ensure the public has access to information to which it is legally entitled. The current administration flouts its obligations under FOIA in an effort to keep people from gaining access to important information about how city government functions. This abuse has financial costs to taxpayers,and it will end when I am mayor.
Public bodies sometimes abuse the FOIA process to avoid disclosing embarrassing or harmful records. This happened recently with this administration and CPS, which for months ignored, delayed and denied requests from the Chicago Tribune for documents that proved instrumental in uncovering sexual abuse in Chicago public schools.CPS attempted to thwart the Tribune’s requests even though CPS lacked any legal basis for withholding most documents. The school district relented and produced documents only after the Tribune threatened to sue. Fortunately, the Tribune had the resources to fight CPS’ repeated attempts to avoid its statutory obligations.
Other public bodies, like the Chicago Police Department (“CPD”), simply ignore FOIA requests. CPD can avoid complying with its FOIA obligations because it knows requestors typically lack the time and resources to hold CPD accountable. My administration will follow and comply with the FOIA statute and will not seek to shift the burden of enforcing compliance onto the requestor.
Lack of transparency is also a problem. FOIA requests are a matter of public record and public bodies typically maintain online logs showing all requests they have received. While some public agencies take this responsibility seriously, others do not. As a result, the public cannot see what types of information have been requested, and by whom and what public records have and have not been produced. I will take immediate steps to bring greater transparency to city government.
One of my first priorities will be to make more information and records publicly available on city websites so that citizens, the media and watchdogs do not have to file FOIA requests to get information to which they are entitled by law. I will sign an executive order which directs all agencies to minimize the use of exemptions to the FOIA statutes to avoid costly and unnecessary litigation. I will also hold agencies and personnel accountable for failure to respond to FOIA requests.
I also intend to convene a panel of journalists, attorneys, public watchdogs and other stakeholders that frequently file FOIA requests to make recommendations for increasing transparency and access to information, and improving the city’s compliance with the FOIA statute.


Mayoral Questionnaire

I will require my Chief Data Officer to provide data and analysis for every department in city government particularly hiring, procurement procedures, student achievement, crime and tax fairness. Data will be released without regard to political considerations.  If certain data sets reveal unfavorable results, it will provide the Mayor and city leaders the opportunity to fix problems while being transparent with the public.


Mayoral Questionnaire

As comptroller, I was proud to take on the issue of transparency in government, which is why I helped pass the Debt Transparency Act to give taxpayers a window into state finances. It made government officials more accountable to citizens and as mayor, I’ll uphold that standard of transparency when it comes to FOIA responses and more generally. To accomplish that, I’ll require transparent logs of FOIA requests and empower the Inspector General to review FOIA requests, responses, and appeals. 


Mayoral Questionnaire
It is essential to a democratic government that the public has access to public information in a timely manner, per the Freedom of Information Act. I established transparency and accountability as two of my governing principles early in my first term as Cook County Board President. There is a link provided on our website to allow FOIA requests to be submitted electronically. FOIAs directed to the office were directed  to the general counsel and handled with dispatch under the requirements of the state FOIA law. I will bring this same responsiveness to the Office of the Mayor and will insist that all sister agencies follow the same protocol.  




Mayoral Questionnaire

FOIA and other sunshine requests are a much-needed component of transparency in our government.  My administration will be transparent and will be compliant and expedient with all requests. I will act through executive order to implement this commitment. The only limitations on that would be the release of personal information on individuals, particularly children. As Mayor, my office will further support, instruct, and empower city agencies to follow suit through providing the adequate resources and training.




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