Learn About FOIA Request
Sandwich Park District FOIA Officers:
- Bill Novicki
- Angela Seville
The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes the minimum rights of the public to inspect an enormously wide range of documents (5 ILCS 140, et seq.) “Public records” subject to disclosure are all records in the custody or possession of a public body. The Act does not require that a District create records to answer the requests for information. The District must merely produce the records that it possesses.
No fees may be charged for the first 50 pages of black and white letter or legal size copies. Thereafter, the fee for such formatted material shall not exceed 15 cents per page. Fees for copies in color or in other formats cannot exceed the actual costs of making the copies. Public Act 96-542 further states that when a person requests a copy of a record maintained in an electronic format, the public body shall furnish it in the electronic format specified by the requester, if feasible. A public body may charge the requestor for the active cost of purchasing the recording medium, whether disc, diskette, tape or other medium.
FOIA Request-Processing Time:
Once we have received your request, an agency must respond to a request by providing the record or issuing a letter of denial within five (5) days. A failure to respond is considered a denial of the request. The District may extend the time by not more than five (5) additional working days if it can justify the extension under one of the reasons enumerated in the Act.
The Act currently lists a substantial number of exemptions. A district denying a records request must specify which exemption listed in the Freedom of Information Act that the public body asserts authorizes the basis for denial “and “specific reasons for the denial, including a detailed factual basis and a citation to supporting legal authority”. The District must also alert a Public Access Counselor (a position established in the office of the Illinois Attorney General by Public Act 96-542) that the request will be denied. The Public Access Counselor may or may not determine that further action is warranted before the request is denied. If the request is denied, a requester who thinks that the denial constitutes a violation of the Freedom of Information Act may ask the Public Access Counselor to review the situation. At this time, the Public Access Counselor may determine that the allegation of the violation is unfounded or that further inquiry is warranted. The following is a list of exemptions that might be relevant to request made to the District: Where Prohibited by State or Federal Law –If a request would cause the District to violate state or federal law, the District may refuse to disclose on that basis.
Burdensome Categorical Requests:
Where a request is made that calls for all records falling within a generalized category, the District may object that the request is unduly burdensome for the District to comply therewith. The District must state that narrowing the request is unfeasible and that the burden on the public body outweighs the public’s interest in the information. Before the District can invoke this exemption, it must offer the requesting party the opportunity to modify its request to make it more manageable. The District has the burden to demonstrate the request is unduly burdensome.
Invasion of Personal Privacy:
Information that, if disclosed, would constitute a “clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” is exempt from disclosure. Currently, the Act delineates several examples of such instances, including, personnel files, personal information regarding professional or occupational licenses, information regarding a taxpayer in connection with payment of taxes, information regarding the identity of an individual filing a complaint with an administrative, investigative or law enforcement agency and the names, addresses or other personal information of participants and registrants within a Park District.
How to File A FOIA Request:
Your request must be in writing and include the following information
Provide your name, address, and telephone number.
Also, if you have an email address, please provide it, so that we may contact you if we have any questions concerning your request.
Provide as much detail as possible about the records you seek. Indicate whether you are requesting the information in a form or format (such as .PDF or email attachment) other than paper.
If you are mailing the request, please mark “FOIA Request” on the outside of the envelope.