Governor Rauner, SPJ’s Black Hole Awards, and Me

As I was reading Edgar County Watchdogs today, I came across an article that mentioned Illinois Governor Rauner being nominated for a“Black Hole Award.” There in the body of the article is my name and nomination for the Office of the Governor submitted to the Society of Professional Journalists. Awesome!

Image result for the black hole poster
Is the slogan for the movie a metaphor for FOIA requests?

In honor of this nomination, here are the Office of the Governor’s FOIA logs from 2014-2017 that I originally sought and prompted my submission to SPJ’s Black Hole Awards.

I was only able to obtain these through an appeal to the Illinois Attorney General. The process took about three months from request to records produced. Three months isn’t as bad as some horror stories I’ve heard, but I believe the only reason I have the records now is because of my appeal. I encourage any readers out there to do the same: don’t hesitate – appeal.

Let’s Get Visual! Visualization Best Practices

I make a lot of reports and I’m always looking for ways to make better and more efficient reports. I recently read The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte and found it illuminating. Although the book is often heavy in theory, its use of clear prose and myriad of examples – both historic and present – made me more introspective about the reports I create. Anyone who uses visuals in their work could benefit from reading Tufte’s book. In this post I’ll talk about my takeaways from the book.

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Land of FOIA Logs: Illinois Commerce Commission Transit Bureau

Filing FOIA requests to the State of Illinois can seem intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. I’ve requested a lot of FOIA logs from the State of Illinois. To help aspiring FOIA requesters, I’m going to review each agency’s logs and summarize the common requests, and briefly discuss the types of records available. The goal is to give you a head start in your inquiries. 

Related imageThe Illinois Commerce Commission Transit Bureau deals with trains and trucks  – of all varieties – and their related equipment. Have you ever wondered who owns a railroad viaduct? ICCTB can tell you. Want copies of grade crossings? ICCTB again! In legal speak, anything under the Illinois Vehicle Code [625 ILCS 5] you can request from ICCTB.

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