The need for transparency in Collinsville

By The Madison County Record | May 7, 2015

To the Editor:

About six years ago the Public Access Counselor in the Attorney General's office was given the power to settle complaints for both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA).

According to the Illinois Municipal Review from 2010 through 2013, complaints almost doubled and the time for many decisions took over a year.

Madison County Assistant State's's Atty. John McGuire has made decisions for this individual over the last several years. On March 13, I emailed Mr. McGuire asking him to message the Collinsville Library to comply with the law that says its website has to state how to make online FOIA request.

In just a few days I was informed that they now comply.

Also on March 13, I faxed the library a request for the 2014 W-2 forms. The employer forms were timely furnished but had some redactions that were inappropriate.

On March 17, I then made a request that was similar but different by asking for the employees 2014 W-2 forms. In 15 minutes District Director replied stating, "I need of further explanation of your request. Our lawyer read your request and agreed with what I gave you as a reply. "

The act requires responses to be complied with or denied within five business days and as of this writing there has been noncompliance for over 30 days.

A request was made for a copy of the electronic training curriculum certificate of completion by the FOI officer and District Director Barbara Rhodes furnished same that was completed just over three years ago.

The 2014 W-2 forms for Rhode's wages was $72,550. Considering one third more for benefits puts her cost to the taxpayers at $97,000. I hope McGuire continues to investigate this need for transparency.

Bob DesPain

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