St. Clair County Associate Judge Chris Kolker has been assigned to a case against East St. Louis elected officials and staff for allegedly withholding information after a Freedom of Information Act was filed.
East St. Louis City Clerk Dorene Hoosman, a defendant, filed for change of judge on Aug. 5. St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien originally presided over the case.
Civic activist Matt Hawkins filed the complaint against East St. Louis officials and staff, claiming he has not received a response from the city or its attorney regarding his request for documents concerning a Community Block Development Grant, where nearly $2.5 million was spent to renovate and/or build 16 housing units involving only 12 buildings.
Hawkins seeks the court’s assistance to enforce his right to information concerning the city’s handling of grant money. According to the complaint, Hawkins requests that the court issue an immediate issuance of a writ of mandamus, which compels the defendants to immediately release the requested public information and to “order the production of any public records improperly withheld from the plaintiff.”
Hawkins also names Mayor Alvin Parks, City Councilman Roy Mosley, City Councilwoman Emeka Jackson, City Councilwoman Latoya Greenwood, City Councilman Robert Eastern III and City Manager Deletra Hudson as defendants in the May 31 complaint.
The defendants filed a motion on Aug. 5 to dismiss Hawkins’ complaint stating that it failed to comply with Illinois Rules of Civil Procedure as it failed to consecutively number the paragraphs and separate each paragraph into separate allegations, preventing the defendants from answering the allegations.
Hawkins seeks immediate reimbursement of all costs involved with any public funds that may have been misused or stolen, submitting the information request and/or filing fees, and a judgment of at least $100,000 in damages. He also wants the Court to fine the defendant public bodies $5,000 each for violating the FOIA.
“There are several other investigations that require funding that plaintiff desires to undertake,” Hawkins states in the complaint, “and any funds granted by the Court would be used to make East St. Louis government more transparent and user friendly.”
Hawkins is a plaintiff pro se.
The defendants are represented by Michael L. Wagner of Clayborne, Sabo and Wagner LLP in Belleville.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-MR-190