Public Records Request Policy

Policy


It is the policy of the Village of Palos Park (the “Village”) to comply with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140/1 et seq. (the “Act” or “FOIA”), recognizing that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of Village government and the official acts and policies of those who represent them as public officials and public employees, while, at the same time, protecting the legitimate privacy interest of persons and maintaining administrative efficiency. To achieve that objective, the Village, and its subsidiary bodies, such as, its boards, commissions and committees, will make available for inspection or copying, all public records, as defined in Section 140/2(c) of the Act (See Exhibit A attached hereto), which are not specifically exempted under Sections 7 and 7.5 of the Act (See Exhibits B and C attached hereto for a summary). The Act does not obligate the Village to maintain or prepare any public record not ordinarily maintained or prepared by the Village, or compel the Village to interpret or advise a requestor as to the meaning or significance of public records.
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Procedure for Providing Public Record


A. Requests for Public Records

1. General: Except as otherwise provided in this Policy, requests for public records must be made in writing. Requestors may use the Village’s FOIA request form, which is attached hereto as Exhibit D and is available on the Village’s website. The Village will comply with written requests for public records within the time required by the Act. Working/business days are Monday through Friday, excepting recognized holidays.

2. Oral Requests: The release of public records based upon routine oral requests will be subject to the discretion of the Freedom of Information Officer. Examples of such routines oral requests include minutes of public meetings and copies of Village ordinances.

3. Submitting a Request: FOIA requests should be submitted to the designated Freedom of Information Officer at the following locations:

Village of Palos Park
8999 W. 123rd Street
Palos Park, Illinois 60464
Attn: Cathy Gabel Freedom of Information Officer or email / 708-671-3706

Village of Palos Park Police Department
8999 W. 123rd Street
Palos Park, Illinois 60464
Attn: Dolores Maldonado Freedom of Information Officer or email / 708-671-3770

4. The Request: Persons making requests for Village records must specify:

a. The requestor’s full name, address and telephone number.
b. The name or a brief description of the public record(s) requested, being as specific as possible.
c. Whether the request is for inspection of public records, copies of public records, or both.
d. The desired method of delivery, i.e., will call, mail, facsimile, etc. The Village will attempt to accommodate the desired method, depending upon the records requested.
e. Whether the request is for a commercial purpose.

B. Extensions

In the event that the Village cannot comply with a request within the five (5) business day period, the Village will notify the requestor in writing that an additional five (5) business day period is necessary to comply with the request. Such notification will include the specific reason for the delay and the date by which the public records will be made available, or denial will be made. Such an extension may be for any of the reasons set forth in the Act, which are as follows:

1. The requested public records are stored in whole or in part at locations other than the office having charge of the requested public records;
2. The request requires the collection of a substantial number of specified public records;
3. The request is couched in categorical terms and requires an extensive search for the public records responsive to it;
4. The requested public records have not been located in the course of a routine search and additional efforts are being made to locate them;
5. The requested public records require examination and evaluation by personnel having the necessary competence and discretion to determine if they are exempt from disclosure under the Act or should be revealed only with appropriate deletions;
6. The request for public records cannot be complied with by the Village within the time limits prescribed above without unduly burdening or interfering with the operations of the Village; or
7. There is a need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another public body or among two or more components of a public body having a substantial interest in the determination or in the subject matter of the request.

C. Exemptions

The Act creates a presumption that all public records in the custody or possession of the Village are presumed to the open to inspection or copying. The Village is not required to provide copies of, or allow access to, any public records which are exempt from disclosure under the Act (See Exhibits B and C attached hereto) or are unduly burdensome, subject to certain requirements. Exemptions shall be considered as follows:

1. Exempt Public Records: The Village will not provide copies of, or allow access to, any public records which are exempt from disclosure under the Act.

2. Exempt Public Record with Non-Exempt Material: If a public record is not exempt from disclosure under the Act but contains material that is exempt, the Village shall delete the exempt material and make the public record available for inspection or copying.

3. Unduly Burdensome: Requests for all public records within a category shall be complied with unless compliance would be unduly burdensome for the Village, the request cannot be narrowed, and the burden on the Village outweighs the public interest in the information. Before invoking this exemption, the Village shall extend to the requestor an opportunity to confer with it in an attempt to reduce the request to manageable proportions. If the Village responds to a categorical request by stating that compliance would unduly burden its operation, and an attempt to reduce the request is unsuccessful, it shall do so in writing, specifying the reasons why it would be unduly burdensome and the extent to which compliance will so burden the operations of the Village. Such a response shall be treated as a denial of the request for public records. Repeated requests from the same person for the same public records that are unchanged or identical to public records previously provided or properly denied are unduly burdensome.

4. Burden of Proof: If the Village asserts that a public record is exempt from disclosure, it has the burden of proving, by clear and convincing evidence, that it is exempt.

D. Inspection

Public records may be viewed at the Village Hall during normal business hours or at such time and place as the Village may determine. When a request is made to view public records, the requestor should be advised not to appear at the Village Hall assuming the requested records will be available, unless confirmed by a Village employee, authorized to coordinate such viewing.

E. Village Response

1. Freedom of Information Officer Designation: The Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Village Council, shall designate an employee(s) as the Freedom of Information Officer(s), and shall appoint such assistants to the Freedom of Information Officer, within each Village Department, as the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Village Council, shall deem necessary and appropriate. Such designations shall be included in the short description of the village (See Exhibit E attached hereto)

2. Freedom of Information Officer Training: The Freedom of Information Officer(s), and his/her /their assistants, shall complete the training mandated by the Act within six (6) months of January 1, 2010. Persons assuming those positions thereafter shall complete the training within thirty (30) days of appointment/designation.

3. Public Records for Immediate Disclosure: The Freedom of Information Officer(s) shall develop a list of documents or categories of public records that the Village shall immediately disclose upon request. That list shall be made available for all Village Departments.

4. Response to Request: Unless requested public records are provided immediately, any Village employee or official receiving a request for public records under the Act must immediately forward that request to the Freedom of Information Officer(s), who shall ensure that the request is responded to in accordance with the Act and this Policy. All requests shall be responded to as follows:

a. Timing of Response: Requests will be responded to within the five (5) business day period or the five (5) additional business day period if conditions for an extension of time exist, subject to further extension based upon a written agreement. Commercial requests shall be responded to as provided in Section IV.E below.

b. Receipt of Request: Upon receipt of a request for a public record, the Freedom of Information Officer(s) shall:

(1) Note the date received
(2) Compute the day on which the period for response ends and note that date on the request
(3) Maintain an electronic or paper copy of a written request, including all documents submitted with the request, until the request has been complied with or denied; and
(4) Create a file for the retention of the original request, a copy of the response, a record of the written communications with the requestor, if any, and a copy of any other communications.

c. To Approve a Request: Complete the proper response in exhibit F attached hereto, indicating if public records are enclosed, payment due or the date, time and location for inspection, and send to the requestor, maintaining a copy of the completed form.

d. To Obtain an extension of Time to Respond to a Request: Complete the extension form, attached hereto as Exhibit G, indicating the reason for an extension and send to the requestor, maintaining a copy of the completed form.

e. To Deny a Request: Complete the proper response in Exhibit F attached hereto, citing the factual basis for any claimed exemption, and send to the requestor, maintaining a copy of the completed form.

f. To Deny a Request Based Upon Sections 7(1)(c) or 7(1)(f) of the Act: Complete the Denial of Request for Public Records Based on Section 7(1)(c) or 7(1)(f) of the Act form, attached hereto as Exhibit H, indicating the section relied upon for denial and the factual basis for the claimed exemption, and send to the requestor, maintain a copy; but also send a copy of the denial, along with a copy of the FOIA request, to the Public Access Counselor (see form letter attached hereto as Exhibit I).

g. To Deny a Request in Part: Complete the proper response in Exhibit F attached hereto, indicating the reason for denying a portion of the request and a detailed factual basis for such denial, and send to requestor along with the redacted public records.

h. To Address an Unduly Burdensome Request: Contact the requestor and advise that the request is unduly burdensome and request a conference to attempt to narrow the request to a manageable proportion.