The Chicago Tribune reports:
Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan wants to force public agencies throughout Illinois — from town halls to school boards — to report to her office every time they cite privacy as an excuse to withhold public records.
“It is by far the most broadly abused exemption to the state records law,” said Cara Smith, Madigan’s deputy chief of staff. “We think that is far less likely to happen if they know they have to report it to us every time they use it. If they have a valid reason, then they will have nothing to worry about.”
But a top lobbyist for municipal government in Illinois said the idea of elevating one exemption to public-records law over all the others is “without merit.”
The measure is included in a series of changes Madigan’s office proposes for pending legislation to rewrite the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The bill before lawmakers would give her office sweeping authority to settle public-records disputes by giving the attorney general’s office binding authority to interpret the state’s notoriously weak law. […]
Madigan has touted increased transparency in government as a key component in the battle against government sleaze. She is behind a rewrite of the state’s records law that would increase penalties for public officials who defy it, limit delays in providing records, and tweak some of the exemptions most commonly used by public officials to keep records secret.