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The more things change…

…. the more they stay the same.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Mayor Emanuel is taking a page out of Mayor Daley’s playbook by not providing public records (government cellphone bills and emails, specifically)  that the Tribune requested by claiming that “providing them is unduly burdensome.”

This excuse is something that Chicagoans have heard for years, but it turns out that other cities readily provide this information to their residents.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“In Phoenix, all emails to and from the mayor and City Council are automatically directed to the city clerk’s office, where they are viewable on a public computer terminal.

In Seattle, the details of every closed police internal affairs case are posted online. In Hartford, all the numbers on the mayor’s cellphone bill are of public record.

In Boston, city officials in 2009 posted online some 11,000 emails from a city official following a Boston Globe public records request that revealed the official had been deleting his emails against state records laws.”

It’s nice to see other cities finding ways to provide this information to their residents.

And don’t get me wrong, since taking office Mayor Emanuel has provided a lot of information to the public including crime data, government contracts and employee compensation. But the fact that he is denying the Tribune (and therefore the public) access to these public records not only undermines his efforts towards transparency, but also makes it look like he has something to hide.

So, after reading this article this afternoon, I looked up the definition of transparent, just for fun:

trans·par·ent (adj): permitting the uninterrupted passage of light.

If something inturrupts the passage of light, true transparency is no longer possible.

Read the full Chicago Tribune article here.


About Celeste Meiffren

Celeste Meiffren is Illinois PIRG's Field Director. You can contact her at celeste@illinoispirg.org


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