The Better Government Association held a watchdog training in collaboration with The Dispatch Argus in Rock Island County. The event was held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.
The audience—consisting of over 70 individuals—was a dynamic mix of public officials, journalists, journalism students, real estate developers, and concerned citizens from across the Quad Cities who all came prepared with a host of questions about government and transparency for our presenters.
The BGA’s Civic Engagement and Research Analyst, Annum Haider, opened the program and welcomed audience members to the training. BGA First-Amendment attorney Matt Topic then talked in depth about the Illinois Freedom of Information Act's components and provisions.
Topic walked the audience through Illinois’ FOIA statute, dissected each provision and took citizens through the practical steps of learning who handles FOIA requests in various offices, how best to write a request, and what to expect from responding governments. Audience members were particularly interested in filing requests with anonymity and the many exemptions officials use to deny FOIA requests.
Attendees who make FOIA requests after attending BGA Watchdog Training sessions are encouraged to share their FOIA experiences with the BGA and to send follow-up questions.
Watchdog Trainings are open to the public, free of charge, and can be conducted at various Illinois locations. To see the schedule for Watchdog Trainings, check the BGA events page on our website.