Feb 9, 2022 - Politics

Transparency problems at City Hall

email to the mayor
Most emails the CPS public records office shared with Axios were heavily, if not entirely, redacted. Screenshot: CPS FOIA response to Axios

In an attempt to investigate allegations surrounding last month's CPS-CTU showdown, we filed an open records request for a month of correspondence between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Pedro Martínez.

  • CPS asked for two extensions, and last Friday handed over 32 pages of almost entirely redacted emails.

Why it matters: Lightfoot campaigned on a slogan to "bring in the light."

Driving the news: The Tribune recently published emails in which Lightfoot chastised an advisor for emailing controversial memos subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

  • "I have asked now several times for there to be no more correspondence and writings that are not protected (against FOIA)," Lightfoot wrote.
  • Ironically, Lightfoot's admonishing emails were also not protected against FOIA.

The latest: The Tribune has now sued the city of Chicago for withholding FOIA'd documents about alleged misconduct by city workers.

  • The refusal continues despite an Illinois attorney general ruling the documents were "improperly denied."

What they're saying: CPS FOIA officials said all the redactions fell under rules that exempt things such as opinions, legal consultations and labor negotiations, but they did not explain where each exemption was applied.

  • We also asked Lightfoot's office to explain how these redactions and the mayor's emails align with her stated commitment to transparency. A spokesperson wrote back, "The Mayor's administration is committed to fully complying with the FOIA."

Go deeper: Check out CPS' full FOIA response.

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