Mayoral Candidate’s FOIA Requests Rack Up Big Bill for Tinley Park

Freedom of Information Act requests can be an amazing tool for granting the public greater access to behind-the-scenes government operations.

But information that valuable doesn’t come cheap.

The Southtown Star reports that Steve Eberhardt, who’s running for mayor of Tinley Park, has filed enough FOIA requests over the past 13 months to cost the village more than $18,000.

Village clerk Pat Rea requested a tally of Eberhardt’s FOIA costs to present at a village board committee meeting this week. The report also found that Eberhardt’s requests accounted for 57 percent of the village’s FOIA-response costs for all of 2012.

From the Southtown Star:

“Am I sorry for doing that? Absolutely not because that turned up the emails that tell us what they (village officials) do in the background,” Eberhardt said.

After the committee meeting, Eberhardt said he files FOIA requests because he thinks the village’s residents deserve to know how their money is being spent.

He questioned the timing of Rea’s report, eight weeks before the April 9 election in which Eberhardt will try to unseat longtime Mayor Ed Zabrocki. Rea said politics were not behind the report’s release date, but that it was overdue. It was the first time the whole board had met together since November, he said.

Will his prolific inquiries help or hurt him in the race to be mayor? Share your thoughts in the comments.