2020 Was a Slow Year for Government Newsletters

I began 2020 thinking I was going to get back into FOIA requests. When the pandemic hit, that took a backseat as I became more concerned with me and my family’s well being – both mental and physical. My free time went into bingeing tv shows, playing my Switch, and starting to play guitar again.

However, I still did a few requests throughout the year. I concluded 2020 by asking some state and local organizations for copies of their internal newsletters.

Usually internal newsletters are a treasure trove of information: recipes, redacted birthdays, retirements, and book club announcements. This year the newsletters were spartan. I did find it interesting that there was not a single redaction in all of the records I obtained.

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Delay and Table: Opt-Out Naperville’s Empty Rhetoric Strikes Again

Even after being defeated in the March primary, the crusade against the sale of recreational marijuana in Naperville continues to be a nimby zombie.

An upcoming city council meeting is slated to take place, albeit virtually, to “provide direction regarding the roadmap that will be used to facilitate the creation of zoning regulations for adult-use cannabis facilities.”

Opt-Out Naperville believes that because the meeting is virtual, “many residents and businesses require transparency and this item is no exception, as the city looks to propose a citywide map identifying locations for marijuana stores. [We] request that this item be tabled indefinitely until a safer time, with a workshop so people can learn and understand the proposal.  Transparency.”

As someone who files a lot of Freedom of Information Act requests, I agree that transparency is more important now than ever, as elected officials may not be subjected to the scrutiny of their constituents, and there are unprecedented measures being taken by governments that should have a light shone on. But to Opt-Out Naperville, there is never going to be a good time to discuss this.

Their email goes on to say that we should call the city council and argue that “This matter can reasonably be postponed as it is not a core service of the City. Tabling is appropriate to safer times, as is a workshop.”

The core business of the city is to keep running and be fully operational, even in a remote setting. Tabling this topic or any topic will be detrimental to the city’s well being and governance.

Their talking points are full of filler about democracy and transparency. Again, a majority of people in Naperville voted in favor of this, and as a Naperville citizen I believe the process has been fairly transparent. Even if we weren’t in a pandemic, these conversations would still be happening. To opponents, there will never be a safer time and arguing to table and delay this conversation means indefinitely, and that is the antithesis of a democratic process.

Harold Washington’s FBI File

I recently read Fire on the Prairie and it is an excellent book about the life of former mayor of Chicago Harold Washington. It was really eye opening in many ways. I have always heard about the so-called Council Wars, but I had no idea that one of the main driving factors was Washington’s race; the other was he was a non-machine politician.

I could probably do another blog post on the book and how a lot of the bigots in power then are still around today, but I want to talk about an omission from the book.

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