From the Chicago Tribune’s “Voice of the People” section on February 17, 2012.

Spirit of openness

It is ironic that Mayor Rahm Emanuel relies on his experience in the White House under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to justify his decision to withhold large numbers of records about the city's new speed cameras ("Mayor won't detail speed-camera push; Emanuel withholds or heavily censors records that may show how law went from idea to reality" (News, Feb. 12).

In fact, both of those presidents emphatically rejected the very policy that Emanuel now touts.

In explaining this decision, the mayor's lawyer says that the mayor's office will adhere to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act; the story reported that he said the city "sees no need to disclose more than required."

In fact, upon assuming the presidency, both Clinton and Obama repudiated this very position — rejecting policies embraced by their predecessors. Instead, the two administrations that employed Chicago's current mayor each instituted a "presumption of disclosure" policy that required that agencies only withhold records where it is reasonably foreseeable that disclosure would harm an interest protected by one of the statutory exemptions, or disclosure is prohibited by law. In other words, no agency could withhold information simply because it could technically do so under the law.

If the mayor is truly going to afford us the benefit of his many years of service in Washington, he should abandon this crabbed view of the law, foster a spirit of openness and adopt the policies of the administrations for which he worked.

Harvey Grossman, legal director, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Chicago