This week is Sunshine Week across the U.S., a week during which the press celebrates the Freedom of Information Act and its value for making sure the public can exercise its right to know about its governments.
Sunshine Week is created and supported by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and offers examples and a toolkit for the public to get government information.
CU-CitizenAccess.org has made great use of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, using it to get documents and data on restaurant inspections, complaints about Housing Authority complexes, crime reports in Champaign-Urbana, tax incentive agreements, and safety inspections of fraternities and sororities.
Thus, by using the Freedom of Information Act, CU-CitizenAccess.org has provided much-needed transparency on significant issues in Central Illinois over the past seven years.
In honor of Sunshine Week, CU-CitizenAccess.org has compiled some of the stories that its Freedom of Information requests that have led to. And we offer our own guide to using the Illinois Freedom of Information Act here so you can file your own FOIA.
Among our FOIA driven stories:
- A look at nursing home conditions in Central Illinois
- Inspections and complaints at Housing Authority complexes
- Frequent updates into restaurant inspections and closures
- A review of calls for service data that shows the frequency of domestic violence
- A look at how a tax loophole benefits large landlords
- A look at tax agreements to review expiration dates of project-specific incentives
- A review of lawsuit settlements involving the Champaign County Jail
- Records of vacant houses in Champaign-Urbana and money spent to combat nuisance houses
- Champaign street conditions and the frequency of potholes and spending to fix them
- Inspections of fraternities, sororities and private-certified housing at the University of Illinois
- A look at campus fire data to see where they happen most often and what causes those fires