Saturday, March 05, 2005

Birkett FOIAs tollway documents

Chicago Tribune (John Chase and Virginia Groark):
DuPage to probe toll pacts
Scores of documents sought by Birkett

DuPage County State's Atty. Joseph Birkett on Thursday filed a wide-ranging request with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority seeking scores of documents pertaining to the renovation of the tollway's sleek new oases.

While stressing the investigation is a civil probe and not a criminal one, Birkett said his office wants to review the tollway's contract with the private developer in charge of the oases project, Los Angeles-based Wilton Partners, as well as how Wilton picked businesses to lease space at the rest stops.

Birkett's office is seeking the information under the state Freedom of Information Act.
I'm glad someone is doing the "heavy lifting" on these FOIA requests. And I'm glad the media is covering it. But if I were to FOIA the documents would it constitute a "civil probe"? Or is it more like "research" or a "fishing expedition" at this point?

(Sorry if I'm grinding my own axe. I filed scores of FOIA requests about corruption in Navy Recruiting Command and it was always difficult to get the media interested. The journalists never considered my requests "civil probes" even though I had much more specific information of specific crimes. Again, I apologize if I've moved the discussion from Blagojevich to me and the media.)


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