Mayor seeks to split FOIA work after clerk sues

Steve Hagerty.

Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty will ask aldermen Tuesday to split the job of Freedom of Information Act officer among four city officials.

The move comes less than three weeks after City Clerk Devon Reid, who now is the city's sole FOIA officer, filed suit against the city over his access to FOIA'd materials.

The proposal would retain Reid as the FOIA officer for some inquiries.

But it would have the records manager in the police department handle requests for police records, would have an assistant city attorney handle requests for law department records and handle the review of possible FOIA exemptions and would name a customer service representative in the city collector's office to assist Reid with other requests.

Hagerty's proposal notes that FOIA requests to the city have doubled over the two years since Reid was elected as clerk, from about 700 to more than 1,400 per year.

And, the mayor says, several other area communities -- including Arlington Heights, DeKalb, Glenview, Highland Park, Naperville and Park Ridge -- have multiple FOIA officers.

Reid claimed in his suit that he should be provided copies of all body camera footage released by the police department in response to Freedom of Information Act requests and that he should be given unredacted copies of all documents produced in response to FOIA requests to be able to determine whether the redactions were appropriate.

In September 2017 aldermen considered, but ultimately rejected, a move to replace Reid as FOIA officer after a controversy arose over public release of confidential information.

Related stories

City clerk files suit against city (5/8/19)

Clerk gets to keep FOIA role (10/17/17)

Clerk's role as FOIA officer in doubt (9/28/17)

Topic: