Mayors, watchdogs at odds over changes to Illinois FOIA

June 3, 2011

by Illinois Public Radio

Mayors across Illinois are praising a possible change to the state open records law.

The measure addresses people who submit more than seven requests per week under the state's Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA. Patrick Kitching is the mayor of south suburban Alsip. He says some people abuse FOIA requests to sap the town's time and money.

But he says the law doesn't give governments enough time to respond.

"Nobody's paying for the time for my people to copy all these records," Kitchingg said. "I've had people ask for entire chunks of our check record. Well who's going to pull all those files and copy them all? Somebody's got to do it, because we've only got five days to do this."

The proposal would limit the number of FOIA requests citizens could file. Champions of open government say a city should not be able to turn away citizens it finds annoying. It's up to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to decide if he'll sign the changes into law.