The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.
To the Editor:
Trustee Olver has made it clear that he favors the rhetorical device of the “straw man argument,” as several of his recent letters to this paper have employed this strategy, including his letter last week. Instead of addressing the actual points made by a critic, Trustee Olver prefers to make up a fictionalized version of a critic’s statements that he can then attack. It’s not honest, but it can be convincing and it’s certainly easier than dealing with the facts.
Trustee Olver says that as an attorney, I should know how to “time” my FOIL requests so that I can receive timely responses, and scolds me for insinuating some kind of malfeasance by the Village Clerk in response to my “rush” FOIL request. The FOIL request in question, which sought the public release of documents from the “Municipal Place Gateway and North Riverside Neighborhood Zoning Working Group” was submitted to the village on March 22, 2019, which was the day after the evening meeting on March 21 when this group’s existence was revealed to the public. I suppose I could have whipped out my phone while sitting in the Harmon Firehouse to compose my FOIL request that very evening, but to do so seemed both rude and unlikely to prompt any faster response than sending my request the next business day.
What, exactly, was wrong with my “timing” of my FOIL request, Trustee Olver?
I have now been waiting almost three months for documents that Trustee Olver, Trustee Gallelli and Trustee Simmons have stated will show no plans and no discussions about plans to rezone the North Riverside area. As I asked in my earlier letter, if these statements by our public officials are true, then why is the village taking more than three months to decide whether to even make these documents public, and why will they not release any of them until after the only scheduled public meeting on the rezoning issue?
The problem is not, as Trustee Olver posits, the “rush” nature of my FOIL request, submitted now almost a quarter of a year ago. The problem is not about my “timing”. It is about the content of my request and it is about this village board’s demonstrated preference to share information that should be public with only those associated with their political party.
Since taking control, the current administration has adopted a policy of refusing to address questions from the public at public meetings. They have subverted the FOIL process to keep information about the rezoning process and other public policy away from the public, while engaging in selective information sharing for members of their own political party, as the minutes of a recent Bicycle Pedestrian Committee meeting have shown. If Trustee Olver wishes to defend the oligarchy he is a part of, he should at least do so honestly.