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Chicago Reader Wins A Victory For Real Transparency

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 2, 2013 6:00PM

Rahm Emanuel loves to tout the transparency of his administration. Just last week, his office announced its progress in “unprecedented transparency” in regards to contract bids involving the Department of Procurement Services. Regarding the plan for DPS to post both winning and losing bids for winning and losing low-bid contracts, Emanuel said:

“From my first day in office, my administration has implemented a series of ethics and transparency reforms designed to ensure that city government is honest and accountable to the taxpayers.”

Despite his words about transparency reforms, the attitude from the Mayor’s office still seems to be “do as I say, not as I do.” From the shady dealings surrounding the parking meters to last year’s concerns over the Chicago Infrastructure Trust and Emanuel’s off-schedule trips, the glass doesn’t exactly look half full.

Some of that at least, could change, thanks to a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Mick Dumke of the Chicago Reader. Dumke filed the suit after getting turned down twice by the Daley administration when he made FOIA requests to see a study Daley said it used regarding an announcement of police redeployment. With all of the hooplah Emanuel makes over transparency, one might think he would be the one to release the records, but Dumke shows city lawyers were instructed to continue fighting to keep the records under wraps.

After the Illinois Appellate Court shot down several appeals on what appear to be minor technicalities, the court reversed its decision on Friday, saying that the City’s claims that Daley only made “general references” to the requested study weren’t valid, since he cited it in public. It now has 21 days to decide whether or not to fight that decision.

The ruling is a victory for Chicagoans, as it gives us at least some precedent when filing FOIA requests to obtain records. If the City chooses to continue to fight, it will clearly show what many of us have already been thinking - when the Mayor’s office says Chicago will be “among the most transparent cities in the country,” actions speak louder than words.