Mayor Daley and his merry band of men

I remember filing a bunch of FOIA requests to the city of Chicago a couple years back for the most mundane of things, itemized city budget reports. What I got back was atrociously disorganized. If I didn’t have a whole bunch of time on my hands, I would have easily given up.

Thus, when this story about Daley opening up the books came through, I was wondering how he was going to turn it around to his gain. It seems as though hes going to use the FOIA requests to pit his friends at various news outlets against each other:

Local news media have long pushed the notoriously opaque Daley administration to open City Hall’s filing cabinets wider and more readily. And now that a recent change in Illinois’s “sunshine law” requires every government body to keep a log of requests for public documents, the City of Chicago has decided to go a step beyond the mandate and publish who is asking for which files. No other Illinois city has taken such a step…

Thanks to a new feature added this week to, the activities of hypercompetitive investigative reporters are exposed for the public — and rivals — to view the moment they begin following up on tips about the Daley administration’s activities.

The most important thing, though, that comes out of this is near the end of the article:

If the mayor’s transparency initiative is truly designed to use the city’s Web site to better inform the public about the way Chicago works, then the city could go even further and post the administration’s responses to the requests.

The public would learn a great deal from a new city policy that shows what information the mayor releases — and refuses to release.


First published May 18, 2010