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Algonquin Township facing lawsuit over Freedom of Information Act for records requests

Watchdog group alleges 16 counts of records request violations

Algonquin Township Clerk Karen Lukasik takes notes during a meeting March 14 in Crystal Lake.
Algonquin Township Clerk Karen Lukasik takes notes during a meeting March 14 in Crystal Lake.

Another lawsuit has landed in Algonquin Township.

The latest legal barb comes from the Edgar County Watchdogs, a donation-driven group based in southern Illinois known for exposing corruption with documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The lawsuit from Edgar County Watchdogs founders Kirk Allen and John Kraft alleges that Algonquin Township officials – including Clerk Karen Lukasik – refused to reply to the group's FOIA requests on 16 occasions, according to an April 4 complaint filed in McHenry County court.

The complaint represents the latest legal drama to unfold inside the township, where hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees have mounted in multiple lawsuits in the past year, engulfing McHenry County's most populous township in turmoil.

Since he took office in May, Supervisor Charles Lutzow said Algonquin Township has received more than 90 FOIA requests from numerous parties. He declined to comment for this story.

The records requests asked for surveillance footage; protective orders; credit card transactions and billings; phone bills; the board meeting agenda and minutes from Aug. 8, 2008; resolutions regarding the salaries of public officials; annual reports from former Highway Commissioner Bob Miller; a letter detailing Miller's accumulated sick time in office; Miller's emails; contracts; and subpoenas, according to the complaint.

"This is just another political vendetta, which is wasting taxpayer dollars, and for what? What do the Edgar County Watchdogs have to do with Algonquin Township, and are they paying for this suit? I'd like to know who they have colluded with on the inside to file this," Lukasik said in a text message. "Quite frankly, this silliness needs to stop. Threats of lawsuits every other day, and it doesn't seem to be ending."

In court, township officials now must provide proof that their denial of the records requests were correct. If the Edgar County Watchdogs win in court, the township must pay for their lawyer's fees and could face fines up to $5,000 for each FOIA violation.

Woodstock attorney Denise Ambrosiak is representing the Edgar County Watchdogs in the case. She was not available for comment Sunday.

Algonquin Township officials are due to appear at 9:15 a.m. July 2 in McHenry County court.

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