Chief Finney Pays Return Visit to 906 W. Vine St.

On Monday afternoon, Deborah Thomas, who lives at 906 W. Vine St., received a phone call from the City of Champaign. The woman on the phone identified herself as “Susan” from the City Attorney’s office. They wanted to visit her house the following day on March 2 at 3:30 p.m. with Police Chief R.T. Finney. It was at Deborah’s home that Kiwane Carrington was fatally shot after Chief Finney and officer Daniel Norbits arrived there on October 9, 2009. Running between classes at Parkland, Deborah did not get the chance to ask why they wanted to visit, but told them they could come by.

Soon after, Deborah called me to say that Finney would be visiting and asked for someone else to be there. I called Melodye Rosales and the two of us went to her home shortly before 3:30 p.m.

Chief Finney and the two attorneys came in an unmarked black SUV with tinted windows. They drove up and down Vine St. twice before parking at the Icehouse bar around the corner. They walked around a fence and behind a house to get to 906 W. Vine St.

A woman knocked at the door. Deborah walked out to greet them. The woman who appears on the YouTube video says she is “Susan, from the City of Champaign, the person who called you.” (It is assumed that this was Susan Wozniak, a paralegal for the city, but it could not be confirmed.) Then another unidentified person, a white haired man wearing a black bomber jacket, introduced himself. “I wanted to let you know we’re here,” Susan says.
 
Melodye Rosales came out behind Deborah with a video camera and I followed them. Obviously surprised, Chief Finney quickly turned around and headed back to the car. In the video, he can be seen wearing a black jacket with a patch on his upper right arm. Susan points to the backyard, but as she sees Finney walking off, she turns to leave. “Thank you very much,” she says. “Thanks,” the unidentified man says and waves. They did not stick around to investigate the property. Apparently, this was not a routine visit.

A FOIA was filed with the City of Champaign to find out who Susan and the unidentified man were, whose car they arrived in, and why they were there. I received a letter from Deputy Chief Holly Nearing that stated, “There is no public record of this occurrence.” I called Nearing for further clarification and she said, “I have responded to you within the restraints of the FOIA legislation.”

What does the City of Champaign have to hide about why Finney and friends were visiting the home of Deborah Thomas?

BD

 

 

 

 

a still picture of Carl

Finney_Susan_and_Carl: Here is a still image of the person, Carl.

testing

Finney_Susan_and_Carl: Here is a still image of the person, Carl.

trying to attach the image, not working

carl.png: Here is a still picture of the visitor, Carl.

Illinois FOIA = Cover Your Ass

A FOIA was filed with the City of Champaign to find out who Susan and Carl were, whose car they arrived in, and why they were there. I received a letter from Deputy Chief Holly Nearing that stated, “There is no public record of this occurrence.” I called Nearing for further clarification and she said, “I have responded to you within the restraints of the FOIA legislation.”

Deputy Chief Nearing's comment is representative of the mindset that is part of the problem at CPD and with the mindset of the Illinois politicians that drafted the latest version of the "improved" FOIA legislation. There is nothing in the FOIA legislation that "restrains" an Illinois government entity. Rather, it provides a number of reasons why an entity cannot presumptively deny the public a requested document.

On the other hand, as "improved," "reformed," or whatever, in far too many places, it still does not presume that the public's information, created on the public's dime, is something that the public has a RIGHT to have access to. In far too many cases, petty bureaucrats like Nearing search for some reason to deny access. In fact, any claim of denial of access should be a very steep bar for the bureaucrat to cross, rather than the facetious claim that FOIA is a bar to a release. Any such refusal to grant access should be accompanied by a quite specific reason for such a denial, rather a vague claim of "restraint" by the FOIA legislation.

Anyone who has worked with the federal government's FOIA rules could tell you what a joke the Illinois FOIA situation is. While there is room for some reasonable differences between the two different bodies of law and custom between the two, the petty claims made by so many in Illinois government are laughable and the Illinois legislation remains a joke. Illinois government shouldn't even call it a "FOIA" law -- they should just call it a "CYA" law, because that's mostly what it still amounts to.

The link does not appear to be working

can someone repost it?

Would that be Susan McGrath?

She is an attorney who has done work for the city.

Would that be Susan McGrath?

No. That definetly is NOT McGrath

More Whining from Champaign About FOIA

The News-Gazette ran a frontpage story titled "Agencies Dealing with Large-Scale Changes Since Jan. 1" regarding the changes they've seen since the "reformed" Illinois FOIA law went into effect. I'm unsure what "large-scale changes" they are speaking of, as that is unclear from the article. Mostly, it's more whining from officials who should have been conducting OUR government in a more open fashion all along, instead of coming up with phony excuses to deny the public information there was little or NO reason to withhold. These officials seem to still  be stuck in a rut from the past.

What took the cake was Champaign City Attorney Fred Stavins's quote that "not all FOIA requests are the same. Some FOIA requests are made by serious journalists, some made by casual journalists. Some people just have a (bone) to pick, and that's OK, too. But it's all a cost to citizens."

Stavins shoudl remember that the law is the law and doesn't distinguish between journalists -- whether "serious" or "casual" -- or ordinary citizens. It Stavins himself who sees such distinctions and wants to make some big deal out of them. His should just do his job and quit making excuses, which is what the law is about. The new law is intended to end the excuses. He needs to get on with the people's business or find another job where he doesn't feel so put upon.

ARMS police database

Why is nobody bitching about ARMS?

ARMS is a database that is shared by CPD, UIPD and UPD. It contains records of all contacts between police and an individual. There seems to be no validation of the information in ARMS (ie entries are not vetted by the court -- they're not convictions). They seem to last forever. And there does not seem to be a process for disputing or correcting ARMS entries.

Let's say you call the police because a neighbor is doing something stupid. An officer comes out. Your neighbor makes a false assertion about your conduct. Next thing you (don't) know, ARMS shows you as offender in some matter that was never charged, because the officer believed your neighbor and put you in ARMS as offender. Or maybe the officer makes an error and puts you in as offender by accident.

Next time you get pulled over for a license plate bulb out, the first thing the officer sees when he brings you up on his laptop is an entry saying you were offender in last police contact. Do you care to guess whether that will prejudice the officer against you?

Your driving record, your credit report, and stuff like that are all subject to regulation, sunset provisions, dispute procedures, and so forth. But ARMS is totally unregulated.

People should be clamoring for regulation of ARMS because it has the capacity to screw anyone who has contacts with police. It's an off the record record.

To obtain your ARMS contacts, send a letter to each agency, requesting your ARMS database entries:

UIPD: Office of Public Affairs, 507 E Green Street, Champaign, IL 61820

CPD: FOIA Officer, Champaign Police Department, 82 E University Avenue, Champaign, IL 61820

UPD: City Clerk, City of Urbana, 300 S Vine, Urbana, IL 61801

 
Sample note:

Your Name

Dear FOIA Officer,

Pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, please provide me with a printout of all entries in the ARMS database which contain my name or relate to me.

Thank You,

Your Name

Finney showing his true

Finney showing his true colors. 

Post new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer