FOIA Firestorm Sparked

Advocates for government transparency still have a fight ahead over the state's Freedom of Information Act. That's despite a temporary reprieve yesterday.

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, of Chicago, caught transparency advocates off guard last week, with just a handful of days remaining in the legislative session. She introduced a plan that would make it harder for members of the public to obtain government information. It would also make it harder for citizens to recover legal fees when governments illegally withhold documents.

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Suit: CPD refused to turn over cell phone data collection records

A privacy activist is suing the Chicago Police Department after officials denied his Freedom of Information Act request seeking departmental records regarding cell phone data collection.

Southwest Side resident Freddy Martinez filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court. The suit claims the police department “has willfully and intentionally violated FOIA by refusing to produce records that would show the full extent to which it has secretly used 'IMSI catcher' or 'stingray' equipment.”

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Keep shining light on government

The key to our watchdog work — shining a light on government and holding public officials accountable — comes down to a single word: Transparency.

In our world it means relatively easy access to public information — documents and records on how government employees spend our tax dollars and make their policy decisions.

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Using FOIA, the Chicago Tribune followed an undercover FBI agent’s formation of a political committee

The Tribune used state records and trial transcripts to show how an undercover FBI agent, using the alias Carlos Vargas, formed a political committee while posing as a strip club manager in the Chicago suburb of Harvey.

The records list Vargas as providing about $140,000 to the committee, named The Harvey Good Government Group 2007. Fliers tied to the committee promoted the re-election of the suburb's controversial mayor.Continue>>>

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Chicago lays out next steps in Open Data Plan

City of Chicago officials released a report Friday laying out a next set of goals for routine publication of data from city agencies.

The first annual City of Chicago Open Data Report resulted from a December 2012 executive order of Mayor Rahm Emanuel that required city agencies to publish data and metadata to a public portal. The information includes civic employee salaries, lobbyist data, budget data and more.

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