“The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – endeavors to open the workings of government to the public, shed light on government actions and, in the process, strengthen our democracy.” Attorney General of Illinois website
Late yesterday, the government’s regional suburban mass transit bus system, PACE- rejected our FOIA request arguing that their salaries and pensions are private information.
We believe that PACE has grossly misinterpreted the law. Click here to read the rejection letter. PACE cites 5 ILCS 140/7 (1) (b) and (c) claiming the public has no right to know the pay and pensions of its employees, click here to review the statute.
Following FOIA procedure, this morning we will file with the public access counselor of the Illinois Attorney General. We are confident that the Attorney General will render a positive opinion. If PACE still refuses to follow the law, we will sue them in court.
This example of bureaucratic intransience demonstrates the importance of our transparency portal at www.openthebooks.com. The hubris of government is stunning. The process of requiring citizens to file requests, wait, re-file, and wait for public information is intimidating and demeaning.
Public information should be proactively posted online. Public information should not be hidden behind bureaucrats in charge of fulfilling “freedom of information” requests in the internet age.
At openthebooks.com, we have pioneered this new standard. We have set national precedence.
Posted on our website is over 7 million lines of public employment data amounting to a grand sum of a quarter trillion dollars of public pay and pensions.
Taking eight months, we’ve filed Freedom of Information Act Requests (FOIA) with thousands of government units. Until PACE, not one single governmental entity rejected our request for this public information. Some governments ignored our request; we are following up and will not stop until they comply.
Two months ago, Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel posted city employee salaries online. At openthebooks.com, we’ve actually done this for virtually every public employee at every level of Illinois government.
For decades, state law has required local units of government to print salaries in local newspapers.
We’ve simply brought nearly all of Illinois government into the electronic age with the proactive posting of this information online.