sunshine

Prolific freedom of information filers try to shed some light

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Their names are well-known to village clerks. Their freedom of information requests pile up. They consider themselves active members of society, self-appointed watchdogs who want to know how their tax money’s being spent. Some share the data with others, some use it for lawsuits, some …

Keeping tabs on housing market through FOIAs

Every month, without fail in at least six south suburban towns, a financial adviser files a Freedom of Information Act request for all new building permits over $20,000. And developers want copies of the last 10 bids on various municipal projects. It’s all part of …

Is sharing information with public too costly?

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Tinley Park Village Clerk Pat Rea sighed at the paper-stuffed boxes stacked on a table in the village hall. Their contents — the fruit of a year’s worth of Freedom of Information Act requests — have cost the village excess time and money, he says. …

Obama administration denying requests for information

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WASHINGTON — Two years into its pledge to improve government transparency, the Barack Obama administration took action on fewer requests for federal records from citizens, journalists, companies and others last year even as significantly more people asked for information. The administration disclosed at least some …

Openness in state government? Survey shows obstacles

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NEW YORK — More openness in government. Lawmakers across the country, including the Republicans who took control in many states this year, say they want it. But a survey of all 50 states by The Associated Press has found that efforts to boost openness often …

Thousands got Illinois-subsidized jobs — but who?

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SPRINGFIELD — In 2006, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he would give poor teens eight-week summer jobs on community service and highway beautification projects. Thousands of youths, he said, got the state-subsidized posts over the next three years. But ever since, state officials have refused …

Sunshine’s good for budget health, as well

Sunshine Week may sound like an alluring Caribbean vacation, but it actually is a national initiative to further open government. News media, nonprofit organizations, libraries, schools and others interested in protecting the public’s right to know participate. Sunshine Week began in 2002 when Florida legislators …

You’re the power source to light up government

I resent the fact that people have to ask their government in writing for public information. Almost every document these days is stored in a computer. But if you want a copy of a school superintendent’s contract, for example, you’ll be asked to file a …

It's your government, not the employees'

KADNER: What does the government have to hide? That's the question every person should ask when elected officials try to keep secrets.

Advocates: State needs more sunshine

Open government in Illinois may have gotten a boost when the state's bulked-up Freedom of Information Act took effect in January 2010, but it's still far from perfect, according to some experts. Because of changes to the law, the public and the working media now …

Educators' hotel stays, parties on you

A review of school districts' credit card bills shows some of the biggest tabs are rung up close to home, not while officials and board members are away at conferences.

Taxpayers can track state grants

Illinois taxpayers now have a new way to track state-funded grants. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has launched a Web site called "Grant Tracker." DCEO director Warren Ribley says Gov. Pat Quinn's makes government "transparency" a priority. He says state and federal grants …

Con-fer-ence: An excuse to spend lavishly?

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Kathy Quilty is one of the most frugal school board members in the Southland. The District 230 board member spent $22.30 for her trip to a Chicago conference while many other school administrators and board members dropped a bundle on meals, hotels and travel, a review of expense records by the SouthtownStar found.

How to get answers from public officials

Illinois' strengthened Freedom of Information Act has been in effect for less than three full months, and already hundreds of members of the public have turned to the attorney general's office for help in records disputes, according to a new report. "Our goal is to …

Police reports open to the public

No matter how serious the crimes described in them may be, police reports are public record in Illinois. And by state law, anyone is allowed access to them. Though the Illinois Freedom of Information Act is specific as to what types of information should be …