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posted: 7/13/2017 6:00 AM

Judges say Rosemont must disclose records; will village appeal?

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  • An appellate court has ruled Rosemont must disclose details on rental and financial incentive terms of contracts at the village-owned Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and Allstate Arena. Village officials haven't decided whether to appeal.

    An appellate court has ruled Rosemont must disclose details on rental and financial incentive terms of contracts at the village-owned Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and Allstate Arena. Village officials haven't decided whether to appeal.
    Courtesy of Illinois Office of Tourism, 2013

 
 

Rosemont officials said Wednesday they haven't yet decided whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court lower court rulings that they must release financial records relating to village-owned entertainment venues.

The village has until the end of July if it wants to take the case to the higher court, after an Illinois appellate court determined officials must disclose the specific rental and financial incentive terms of contracts at the Allstate Arena and Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

The Better Government Association sued the village in January 2015 after the village redacted information about the financial terms in contracts for shows, concerts and other events at the two venues in 2014. The government watchdog group requested the full contracts under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, but the village argued certain information was exempt under the law because it constituted "trade secrets."

Rosemont officials have said revealing certain details would put its venues at a competitive disadvantage to privately run venues, but the BGA has argued release of the information is essential to gauging how well government is operating.

Following a monthly village board meeting Wednesday, Mayor Brad Stephens said the village has given the BGA most of what it requested, but disclosing the other details could be "damaging."

"We still feel strongly of our position," Stephens said.

Matt Topic, an attorney representing the BGA, said the still-undisclosed information on rent and incentives is far more important to know than what has been released.

"We hope the village won't put us through further delays and appeals," Topic said.

In a June 27 ruling, the First District Appellate Court upheld a circuit court's decision that the FOIA law's trade secrets exemption doesn't apply to information like rental rates supplied by a public entity to a private contractor.

The three-judge panel also took exception with Rosemont's November 2014 ordinance barring public disclosure of "confidential financial and proprietary information" about the village's entertainment venues. The judges said state FOIA law "precludes Rosemont from creating additional restrictions on public access to information."