CITY HALL — A Chicago journalist has won an appeal on the release of a Daley administration police study, but the city isn't handing it over just yet.
Chicago Reader reporter Mick Dumke filed suit against the city two years ago, seeking the release of a report on Chicago Police Department deployment compiled by A.T. Kearney and the Civic Consulting Alliance. Mayor Richard M. Daley had cited the study in 2010 in saying police were being redeployed from administrative positions to the streets.
Dumke sought a copy of that report in a Freedom of Information Act request, but was denied. A suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court produced a victory for the city in a summary judgment by Judge Franklin Valderrama. The city had argued that the mayor might have made public reference to the report, but said he did not have jurisdiction over its release. The city argued that only then Police Supt. Jody Weis could grant that, which he denied.
Yet an Illinois Appellate Court opinion filed Friday by Justice Daniel Pierce rejected those arguments. It said, as mayor of the city, which obviously had the report, Daley could release it, and in fact could not claim a FOIA exemption after he himself cited it in a news conference and an accompanying press release.
Pierce's opinion said it was too narrow to define the law so that only a titled "superintendent" could make the FOIA ruling, and that Daley clearly superintended the city. It also said that, as Daley had referred to how the report was over and complete, he could not argue that it shouldn't be released due to pending decisions on it.
"It goes beyond this particular report," Dumke said Monday. "The issue is getting the report to be released to citizens and their request for information.
"It's a publicly cited document, so I think it ought to be available to the public," he added.
"We are disappointed with the decision in this matter," said Roderick Drew, spokesman for the city's Department of Law. "We'll be exploring all available options."
Dumke readily granted that the report could be obsolete, three years later, but pointed to how the Emanuel administration continues to boast of moving additional officers from administrative positions out on the streets. City Inspector General Joseph Ferguson put out a report earlier this year saying almost 300 police positions could be "civilianized," and Mayor Rahm Emanuel endorsed that approach as well.
"I don't know what's in there. That's why I want to see it," Dumke said. "It's interesting to see what's in there, and we continue to have debates about police deployment and the use of our scant resources."
Drew, too, pressed a larger issue. "Our position was that the mayor did not waive privilege when he mentioned the report," Drew said. "That's really what this boils down to. The circuit court agreed, the Illinois appellate court did not."
According to Dumke, the administration has 21 days from last week's ruling to appeal to the state Supreme Court or turn over the document. Yet to fight it isn't in keeping with Emanuel's "so-called transparency initiative," he said.
"It certainly doesn't seem in concert with what he promised" on the campaign trail, Dumke added. "Obviously, this mayor came in promising reforms, promising transparency. And yet some of these things he continues to carry over from the Daley administration, and actually has stepped up efforts from the Daley administration."