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January 8, 2015 / jeffnward

The return of the Jedi (or at least a frighteningly curmudgeonly columnist)

When we last left off yesterday, in a Kane County municipality not very far way, in a uncharacteristic momentary lapse of sanity, the City of Geneva had restored my capacity to post and comment on their Facebook page. They also sent me a copy of their “social media policy” which pretty much allows them to exclude any feedback that offends their delicate sensibilities.

But when I politely suggested that the mere existence of a “social media policy” in no way makes it legal, and further explained that I’d mitigate their “no links” in comments caveat by posting my entire “Blinded by the white” column, they removed their Facebook page posting function completely.

genevaCitizens can comment on existing city staffer posts, but they can no longer start the conversation. Ain’t it nice to know that Geneva is generally run by folks who harbor an emotional aesthetic not unlike that of your average high school sophomore?

While that emotional depiction may well apply to me too, I’m just a no-account columnist and radio show host with a peculiar sense of humor – not a $150,000 a year plus a $6,000 annual vehicle allowance which counts towards her pension city manager.

So while I’m elated that I can once again semi-share my interesting insights with my fellow Facebook Genevans, that euphoria has been tempered by the fact that I still don’t possess the Geneva Police eligibility lists I so eagerly requested more than two months ago.

And this FOIA stalemate continues despite the fact that a very astute reader, who happens to be the president of his local police and fire board, provided me with an eminently relevant State statute:

“No more than 60 days after each examination, an initial eligibility list shall be posted by the commission. The list shall include the final grades of the candidates without reference to priority of the time of examination and subject to claim for preference credit.”

You can read all of 65 ILCS 5/ of the Illinois Municipal Code right here. Of course, it doesn’t apply to Home Rule communities, but that ain’t Geneva.

What this means is, the entire stranger-than-fiction series of events I’ve been outlining here were utterly unnecessary. Had the City simply followed the law, as virtually every other Kane County municipality already does, I wouldn’t have had to issue a FOIA in the first place.

And even though I’ve generously provided administrators and city attorney, Chuck Radovich, with that entire section of code, they remain steadfast in their refusal to turn over the lists. This, of course, continues to beg the question, what are they trying to hide?

Trust me! It’s gotta be something!

Because when you consider the taxpayer cost of their illegal FOIA dissent, it’s the only thing that makes sense. Well…either that or the City of Geneva despises me so much that they’ll do anything to derail my nefarious Bond villain-esque schemes.

So I got together with the same former managing editor who, to my wife’s chagrin, has been encouraging me all along, and we crunched the numbers. We figured the four average six figure salary staffers involved probably spent a total of 12 to 20 hours on the FOIA and Facebook issues. We also surmised the city attorney will be submitting a bill for approximately 6 to 12 hours.

At a very conservative $150 an hour estimate, that puts the City’s total cost at somewhere between $2,700 and $4,800 – all to defend their failure to deliver data they were required to post publicly by law. And since they obviously have no intention following that law, the City now has to come up with another legal theory to continue their fight which, when you consider today’s attorneys’ fees, will likely double that cost.

And all of their grim determination in no way changes the fact that, in 2015, the Geneva Police Department is still 97.2 percent white and I will get those lists and test scores in the end.

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