Public Watchdog.org

A “Culture of Secrecy” Vignette

08.22.08

We here at PublicWatchdog have complained regularly about the Culture of Secrecy that often keeps the voters and taxpayers in the dark – or at least the twilight – when it comes to what our local governments are doing.  So the release of The Ekl Report to the public Monday was a step in the right direction.

But it didn’t come off without a couple of hiccups, courtesy of 5th Ward Ald. Robert Ryan and 3rd Ward Ald. Don Bach.

Ryan asked City Attorney “Buzz” Hill if it was legally permissible to issue the report publicly because City employees were named in it.  This is a typical “Culture of Secrecy” tactic, which plays on the fact that the Illinois Open Meetings Act (“IOMA”) does permit – but does not require – “personnel” discussions to be held in closed sessions.

Buzz said that he thought it was appropriate because there was a consensus of the Council (although not a unanimous one) that The Ekl Report should be released to the public that was paying for it and that has a clear interest in those results.  Good for Buzz.

Undeterred, Ryan asked Hill whether, because of the names in the report, releasing it to the public was the “right thing” to do?

Once again, Buzz said that he thought it was okay.  Good for Buzz, again.

Apparently hoping that the third time would be the charm, Ryan then asked City Mgr. Jim Hock the same question, adding “From an H.R. perspective…is it the right thing to do?”

Hock replied that there was no official action to be taken in terms of personnel and discipline in connection with the report; and that it seemed in the Council’s best interest to release it because it had assured the community that it would do so. Good for Jim.

Then Bach briefly took up the secrecy cudgel, asking City Attorney Hill if there was anything in the report the city could be sued for?  That’s another Culture of Secrecy ploy which has been used in the past by Bach and also 4th Ward. Ald. Jim Allegretti who, as an attorney, should know that the City enjoys governmental immunity from much of the liability to which ordinary people and corporations are subject. 

Buzz replied that he saw nothing about the release of the report that would subject the City to liability.

So at least for today we’re giving Buzz Hill and Jim Hock a “well done” for striking a blow against the Culture of Secrecy.  And we offer them our hearty encouragement to keep it up.

Special Note: The PubDogs want to offer belated “Happy Birthday” wishes to the “PRU Crew” at Park Ridge Underground, which celebrated its first year of operation yesterday.  Thanks for your “irreverent and unrepentent satire and irony.” 

4 comments so far

Aw shucks, Pub-dogs — Thanks for the wishes and for fighting the good fight too.

And PRUdos to Hill and Hock!

Typical Ryan. Typical Bach. A matched set of idiots.

I’m not sure either one of them has real concern for city employees. I think it was probably Ekl’s scolding to elected officials that singed their short hairs.

How do we find out the names of the meddling public officials?

Sounds like CM Hock has done more right in his short time here than Schuenke did in years. But then again it always looked like Schuenke was spending most of his time schemin’ about ways to do stuff secretly or quickly with no advance notice.



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