Latest Articles

Wednesday, September 11, 2019       In July 2014, Chicago Police Department police officers fatally shot a 16-year-old after he pointed a firearm at the officers on numerous occasions. There were several witnesses to the shooting, and the independent police review board in Chicago subsequently released basic details of the incident including the minor’s name, the date and time of the incident, and the type of incident. In January 2016, WMAQ filed a FOIA request with the CPD, requesting “all police reports, case reports, case incident reports and supplemental reports filed in the police shooting.” CPD denied the request…
  Monday, September 09, 2019     Ancel Glink’s Quorum Forum Podcast Episode 28 was just released: Nice Meeting U! In this episode, the Quorum Forum podcast is heading back to school at Nice Meeting University! Ancel Glink’s Stewart Diamond teaches us about rules for good local government meetings, while Ashton Tunk covers Open Meetings Act news. We also study hard seltzer consumers’ claims of immunity from statutes and local ordinances, based on the theory “there ain’t no laws when you’re drinking claws.”  This podcast is provided as a service to our public and private sector clients and friends. It is…
Wednesday, September 04, 2019     Last week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Cook County, Illinois’ assault weapon ban against a Second Amendment challenge. Wilson v. Cook County, (7th Cir., August 29, 2019). In 2006, Cook County adopted an ordinance making it illegal to “manufacture, sell, offer or display for sale, give, lend, transfer ownership of, acquire, carry or possess” an assault weapon or large-capacity magazine in Cook County. Shortly after enactment of the ordinance, three county residents sued the county claiming that the ordinance violated various provisions of the U.S. constitution and exceeded the county’s police powers.…
  Tuesday, September 03, 2019     The Illinois General Assembly recently amended the Equitable Restrooms Act to address single-occupancy restrooms. P.A. 101-0165. Effective January 1, 2020, all single-occupancy restrooms in any “place of public accommodations” and any “public building” must be identified as all-gender and marked with exterior signage that does not indicate any specific gender.   This new law applies to “public buildings,” which is not defined in this statute. It appears, however, that the new requirement will affect units of local government throughout the state that have single-occupancy restrooms in their government buildings. It is not clear whether the new…
  Wednesday, August 28, 2019     HB 2124 (proposing amendments to the Open Meetings Act) became effective last Friday. That legislation amends the OMA to allow a public body to go into closed session to discuss the hiring, firing, compensation, discipline, and complaints against specific individuals who serve as independent contractors in a park, recreational, or educational setting and specific volunteers under the “personnel” exemption under the OMA.  Public bodies should remember that the PAC office of the Illinois Attorney General expects that public bodies using this exemption to go into closed session provide more detail in their motion that…
Tuesday, August 27, 2019       Last week, an Illinois appellate court upheld a circuit court’s ruling that an inmate was not entitled to home addresses of other individuals under FOIA in an unpublished opinion. In Serio v. Putnam Cnty. Sheriff’s Dept., Raymond Serio, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections, sent two FOIA requests to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department seeking specific information regarding individuals that had been booked into custody at the Putnam County jail. He asked for the name, age, full address, offense, date of arrest, and photos of each individual under Section 2.15(a)…
Monday, August 26, 2019       Earlier this week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an Indiana city’s ordinance requiring a residential property owner who wants to make repairs to the residence either to obtain a license or to hire a licensed contractor. Regan v. City of Hammond. Christopher Regan and the Northwest Indiana Creative Investors Association, Inc. were landlords who own and lease property in the City of Hammond. As property owners, they made periodic repairs and improvements to their properties. Before they could make improvements to their properties, however, they were required by city ordinance to…
  Thursday, August 22, 2019     Earlier this week, the Governor signed into law two bills to amend the Freedom of Information Act. First, Public Act 101-0433 (SB1699) amends Section 2.15(e) of FOIA to redefine where law enforcement agencies may not publish booking photographs (i.e. mugshots). Before the amendment, an agency was not allowed to share on its “social media website”. With this amendment, the definition was changed to “social networking website” as it is defined in Section 10 of the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act. Section 10 of the RPWA defines social networking site as:…
Tuesday, August 20, 2019     This week, the 7th Circuit delivered a victory for the federal government in Higgs v. United States Park Police, a case that involved balancing privacy interests against public disclosure under the federal FOIA statute. Higgs was convicted and sentenced to death for participating in kidnapping and murdering three women with his two friends in 1996 in a federal park located in Maryland. Higgs, while on death row, insisted for several years that the federal government failed to turn over exculpatory evidence as required by law. In 2012, Higgs filed a FOIA request with…
  Tuesday, August 13, 2019     The Illinois Governor just signed legislation making it easier for municipal officials to complete the required Open Meetings Act training. Under current law, all elected and appointed members of public bodies in the state of Illinois must complete the electronic OMA training offered by the Illinois Attorney General within 90 days of taking office. Previous amendments to the OMA authorized  officials in park districts, school districts, drainage districts and others to satisfy the training requirement through alternative programs. Pursuant to P.A. 101-814, an elected or appointed official on a public body of a…
Tuesday, August 06, 2019     The second FOIA case decided last week is Walker v. Bruscato, 2019 IL App (2d) 170775. Walker had filed multiple FOIA requests with the Winnebago States Attorney’s Office for records pertaining to his murder indictment. The first request asked for a copy of the grand jury transcript. The second request asked for a “current or previous list of the types and categories of records available for inspection and copying maintained in your office.” His third request asked for a copy of the record of indictments in May and June of 2001. His fourth…
  Thursday, August 01, 2019     We don’t see a lot of FOIA cases out of the appellate courts but two were issued yesterday that offer some guidance to public bodies on challenges to FOIA denials. In Barner v. Fairburn, 2019 IL App (3d) 180742, Barner sued the Canton Police Department after the Department denied his FOIA request for a copy of dispatch transcripts for a particular time-period on May 12, 2015, as well as other police records during that time period. The Department provided a copy of an incident report but not the dispatch recording, stating in its…
  Wednesday, July 31, 2019     After three months without a binding opinion from the PAC Office of the Illinois Attorney General, the PAC issued an opinion finding a municipality in violation of FOIA for failing to respond to a union’s FOIA request for various records pertaining to a bargaining unit and finances of the municipality. PAC Op. 19-006. Not only did the municipality fail to respond to the FOIA request, it also did not respond to the PAC’s request for review. Nothing new or helpful in this binding opinion except another reminder that public bodies have an obligation…
  Tuesday, July 30, 2019     In 2014, the Village of Winnetka adopted a storm water ordinance that imposed a fee on the owners of property in the Village in order to provide a dedicated funding source for various improvements to the Village’s storm water system. That fee was calculated based on the “equivalent runoff value” (ERU) of 3400 square feet of impervious surface area on lots within the village. No fee was assessed on properties with less than 170 square feet of impervious surface area, and roads, sidewalks, and alleys were also not subject to the fee. Properties that…
  Monday, July 29, 2019     On July 19, 2019, the Governor signed P.A.101-109 enacting significant amendments to the state Raffles and Poker Runs Act that modify, and in some cases relax, requirements for local raffle regulations. Illinois municipalities may want to review their current raffles regulations and consider amendments consistent with the amended Raffles Act. One of the more significant amendments is that raffle chances can now be sold statewide, which is a substantial change from the previous language that restricted the sale to the locality where licensed. Another change is to expand the list of eligible organizations to…
  Friday, July 26, 2019     The Illinois Governor signed P.A. 101-104 into law last week amending the Township Code relating to the process for filling vacancies in township office.  Under the new law, if there is a vacancy in the office of Township Supervisor, then a Township Board trustee must be appointed as deputy supervisor to perform the ministerial functions of the supervisor’s job until the vacancy is filled. Once the vacancy is filled, the deputy supervisor appointment is terminated.  The law also clarifies the duties of the temporarily appointed deputy for other vacant offices as well. If that…