Emanuel has been under fire for appearing not to hold fully to campaign promises his administration would be more transparent than Daley’s, which was notorious for operating in secret. While the Emanuel administration has posted employee payrolls, databases, and other records on the city website, many of which had never seen the light of day until last year, critics say his staff have refused to make all documents involving policy decisions available and continue to react defensively to local media requests seeking complete administration records.
One recent example is an investigation launched by the Chicago Tribune that seeks to reveal the origins of a plan Emanuel successfully pushed through the City Council that will cover nearly half the city with traffic cameras designed to catch speeders, resulting in $100 tickets. While the mayor is selling the initiative as a way to increase child safety and reduce fatalities, critics say it is a shameless revenue generator that originated with an Emanuel insider.
According to the Tribune, the Emanuel administration only released 25 of the 165 internal communications requested through a Freedom of Information request, and the city is also stalling in subsequent requests to release comparable records for other stories involving water rate and vehicle fee hikes.
Emanuel attorney Steve Patton told the Tribune that the city does not need to reveal any more documents than it has to this point, insisting that Illinois’ open records laws allow municipalities to withhold documents relating to policy formation.