Below is the response from the Alderman’s office in which they evade answering any questions about how the alderman is addressing questions about the placement of Somerset residents. Below that is my follow-up email. Apparently Alderman Smith’s efforts are as secret as the states’ efforts.
FROM THE ALDERMAN’S OFFICE:
I cannot forward any information with respect to the progress of the State of Illinois to you. I can say that we have been explicit that we are concerned about the welfare of the occupants of the building.
I encourage you to direct your question to the agencies or individuals who can best determine what information is public, how it should be presented to respect the rights of all involved, what information you have standing to receive and when it is appropriate to share it.
I am afraid I do not understand why you cannot tell me more about what the Alderman is talking to the state about, what she is trying to achieve and what sort of progress she is making. The only possible privacy concerns would be that specific resident names are not released, and surely she is not discussing specific residents with the state, nor am I interested in the names of specific residents. The state itself does not have a right to privacy. It is a public entity and its actions and plans should be open to public scrutiny.
Surely, conversations such as the process by which the state decides what sort of setting is appropriate for residents (community, other facilities, etc.), who is doing the screening, how, the criteria they are using. . . these should be public information and not state secrets. In addition, as Ald. Smith is concerned about the crime these residents inflict upon the neighborhood, certainly some on-going sense of how many of them will, in fact, remain in the neighborhood is something I would imagine the alderman is discussing with the state. Again, I do not see why this should not be shared publicly.
Though Ald. Smith says she is explicitly concerned about the residents, she has yet to provide any information about her actions to address either the needs of the residents or the needs of the neighborhood. If she is doing something productive, she should certainly be able to tell us what it is and apprise her constituents of her progress. A failure to disclose her efforts seems to imply that either she really isn’t doing anything at all or, worse, she is having conversations with the state she would prefer the public to not know about. I fail to understand her lack of transparency in responding to my questions.
I would still very much like to know what Ald. Smith is doing. As for my standing and right to know, I am a citizen of Illinois and resident of the City of Chicago. Clearly I have standing to know what public officials are doing in their public capacity. Wouldn’t you agree?
Thank-you for your time,