Chicagoans learned how to use the Freedom of Information Act to watch their governments at a training session sponsored by the Better Government Association in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Chicago at the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library.
BGA Attorney Matt Topic talked in depth about the Illinois FOIA law’s components and provisions as well as 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.
The Watchdog Training began with a 10-minute introduction on how to be a good-government watchdog delivered by the BGA’s Civic Engagement Coordinator, Annum Haider. Attendees were given several BGA tips on how to observe government in their communities and neighborhoods, how to monitor questionable behavior, and how to conduct relevant research.
While some attendees were new to the land of FOIA, others came prepared with questions for Topic and shared their concerns with the BGA staff. Several citizens asked questions about getting information about specific government contracts and vendors, whether judges are subject to FOIA, how you can determine whether you’ve gotten all the documentation that exists on a certain topic and more.
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 view the schedule for our Watchdog Trainings, check the BGA events page on our website at http://www.bettergov.org/events.
For further information or questions about Watchdog Training, contact Annum Haider at email@example.com.