Category Archives: UIUC-FOIA

What Barbara Wilson Knew

When Barbara Wilson was appointed interim Chancellor of UIUC there were circling questions of what involvement she’d had in the Salaita Affair, if any.  No particular documents were forthcoming from UIUC, although (as I recall and am in the process of tracing down) various FOIAed documents showed she was copied on back-and-forth between then-Chancellor Wise and University Counsel Scott Rice and others that was presumably legal strategizing about Salaita, since everything in those emails but the recipients had been blacked out as, presumably, privileged Lawyer-client communications.

9 months ago I filed FOIA with UIUC to get Wilson’s sent emails during Salaita week (July 21 – 25, 2014) and for the next week or so thereafter.  Now, after a 9 month delay I’ve gotten the first tranche of emails, from July 21 to July 23.  And sure enough, there’s direct evidence Wilson knew about Salaita from day 0 (July 21), evidence that was never released in any of the preceding 20-odd FOIAs on Salaita:

15-478_OCR_WILSON2-1

15-478_OCR_WILSON1-1

Here are the .pdfs of the excerpts from that FOIA with the full set of those Salaita-relevant emails: 15-478_OCR_WILSON1 and 15-478_OCR_WILSON2 … note that I have to go back through the several thousand pages of previous disclosures (including the ones Wise and cronies sent on personal accounts with the specific intent of avoiding FOIA, according to Wise as per Robin Kaler’s advice) to reconstruct as much of the Wilson story as those FOIAed documents allow.

Where does this leave us?  Two possibilities: 1) we can be over-the-top angry that Wilson was heavily involved and that no one ever thought it would be important to let that out to the public as part of the process of “restoring trust” in UIUC administration by making Wilson interim Chancellor.  Alternately, we can 2) say we don’t know at this point that Wilson did anything terrible, but that the fact she was much more involved than broadcast is detestable when coupled with the fact that apparently UIUC hid emails from Wilson for 9 months.

Since I believe in “civility” I’ll pick #2, and express outrage not at what Wilson may or may not have done (which we don’t yet know) but at the fact that the public has once again been snookered by UIUC, which yet again has hidden emails that should have been disclosed long ago.

***

On that note, here’s another revelation: apparently last fall UIUC produced the 8,000-10,000 pages of emails that Salaita had sought under FOIA and that required intervention by the Illinois courts to force UIUC to produce.  As you’ll recall, in the suit brought by Salaita UIUC’s lawyers claimed there was no real public interest in Salaita, and that it was just rubbernecking akin to interest in Kim Kardashian.  While the “Kim Kardashian defense” hasn’t made it into the annals of legal history along with the twinkie defense, it stands out as tin-eared lawyering, the tune being sung to the sum of (as I recall) $100,000 in lawyers fees for that brilliant losing argument.

I’ve been waiting to see those documents for the 8 or 9 months since UIUC lost in court; it turns out they were indeed produced last fall, but only to Salaita’s lawyers, and not to the general public.  There was no legal obligation for UIUC to provide that information to the taxpayers that underwrite UIUC, but still, you’d have thought that after being blown out of the water on the stupid argument that the public didn’t care about Salaita, UIUC would have concluded that the documents should have been released publicly regardless of what UIUC could get away with in terms of sitting on them.

I’ve now filed FOIA to obtain those 8,000-10,000 pages of documents.  I fully expect UIUC to delay production to me by months if not years; even if I’m pleasantly surprised in that regard, I also expect that virtually everything will be blacked out.

We’ll see.  The point is that UIUC was never forthcoming about the Salaita Affair, and now after spending about $2M on the settlement and lawyers fees, continues to hide information that it was legally obligated to provide.

So much for “shared governance.”

 

A Touch of Evil

I’ve held off writing up until now because I’d hoped to see real progress in UIUC engaging in house-cleaning.  Alas, such house-cleaning clearly hasn’t occurred.  Wise is gone (as Chancellor anyway), as is Adesida (as Provost), but my opinion is that neither Wise nor Adesida were the only people who should have been brought to accounting — they were merely two visible outcroppings of a corrupted culture, and what they did (to the extent that we know it now) was encouraged and enabled at every turn by others in the UIUC administration and faculty.

Case in point: Robin Kaler, spokesperson for UIUC.  I knew her from her emails, but hadn’t met her in person until yesterday afternoon when I attended an AAUP presentation at UIUC on the censure and on background checks.  One of the faculty members in the audience brought up the question of why the people who seemingly knowingly avoided FOIA hadn’t been brought to account — I noted that Wise had written in her email that Kaler had told her something like “private emails aren’t subject to FOIA” or something to that effect (I don’t have the quote from the supplemental emails before me at present).

Kaler was in the audience and responded that she hadn’t told Wise that; I said “yes, you did,” she said, “no, I didn’t.” and we went back and forth like that for a few minutes until I asked her what she’d said, and she said something like “I told Wise that all emails could be subject to FOIA” — again, my recollection should be mostly right.

Then I got it — Kaler was saying that Wise’s written statement about what she’d heard from Kaler — presumably shortly after she heard it — was wrong.  Wise got it wrong, misunderstood Kaler.  Of course you’d think this a bit surprising considering that Chancellors of universities are usually pretty sharp about what they hear, and also considering that Kaler’s claimed statement was never committed to paper, so we just have to trust her on what she says she said, don’t we.

I’m many things, but a good liar isn’t within my talent-set, and it took me a good long time to realize that it seems Kaler possesses that particular talent in spades.  And why not lie?  Why not claim you made a statement that no one can contest your having made because you never wrote it down, and you can argue than anyone who did write it down (like the Chancellor of UIUC) no matter how close to when you said it (likely very close) got the statement wrong.

Brilliant.  And evil.  Assuming Kaler’s lying (I believe she is, but I suppose we don’t know the truth at this point), isn’t that just a perfect example of the indifference she and all the others in this sorry sordid affair took (and take) to being open?  Or is it just so much simpler to not say anything at all when you have power? To not be honest when you don’t have to be because you live in a consequence-free bubble.

***

And that brings me to my current lament, which is that we’re now more-or-less two months post Wise/Adesida, and 4 or 5 months post court decision requiring the disclosure of the 10,000 Salaita emails, and yet we’re still no closer to having been given any real information by UIUC, much less seeing any mea culpas or self-examination by the folks in the Swanlund building.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; but even so, I’m still disgusted.  What do you suppose it will take for one or more of these people to realize that truth-telling isn’t a liability, and that “the corporate model” they claim to be emulating isn’t actually based on a surplus of lies?

BTW, here’s the latest FOIA of Burbules — it’s large, c. 27mb.  I find his conversations with Jorge Villegas (Business Admin, UI Springfield) about the medical school yet more evidence of how wrapped up in the medical school all these people were at the time Salaita was happening.  Once again it reinforces my conclusion that Wise wouldn’t have cared in the least about Salaita had he happened at a different time.  And it also makes me wonder even more why Burbules was this busy pushing the medical school.  Pure sycophancy?

FOIA _15-500-503

How Permissible Was Wise’s Sending Confidential Information to Her Son, Andrew?

I just finished OCRing the 33 pages of Kilgore documents.  In scanning it over I noted all the emails in which Andrew Wise (the Chancellor’s son) is included.  Here’s the scan:

Kilgore_OCR

And here’s the question:  is it university policy to allow external (non-UI) people access to confidential information?  Andrew may be a lawyer, but unless he has attorney-client privilege with his mother, disclosures to him likely breach whatever privilege UIUC might claim for not releasing this information.

Is that usual policy?  I know that I’ve had multiple pages completely blacked out in my FOIAs because UIUC claimed privilege, this suggests that they may have waived privilege.

And also it makes you wonder if there are *any* controls over what these people do or are allowed to do?  Burbules and Tolliver must have known Wise was using a personal email, didn’t they think they had a duty to reveal that?  What about Ade and Menah (a lawyer) and all the rest?

And where exactly was UIUC-FOIA; if, as they claim, I’ve filed hundreds of FOIAs, they’ve ostensibly been there to review the disclosures (it’s what they get six figure salaries for right?).  Didn’t they see the personal emails in order to redact them?  Didn’t they think it might be appropriate to actually *ask* Wise and all the rest whether they were using personal emails?

I guess if you set out to know nothing, see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing …

AOS

“Freedom of Speech” is NOT Freedom to Newspeak. (CORRECTED)

Consider “newspeak.”  George Orwell, “1984,” for those unfamiliar with the book.  The word reverberates long after communism is gone, reverberations that continue to carry the original meaning of a language developed expressly to suppress independent thought, indeed to create a language that — by its very construction — makes independent thought impossible.

***

1. “Public Curiosity” as espoused by UI’s lawyer in the Salaita FOIA case is one recent example of newspeak, you know, that statement that the public’s concern about the Salaita case isn’t actually “public concern,” but merely “curiosity,” the kind of rubbernecking that goes on about the Kardashians, as UI’s lawyer put it.  I wonder how much we paid him to produce this ode to dissembling, as well as to the wholesale destruction of the english language.

***

2. “Gone Missing” is another nice one, credit Steven Salaita for this one.  Specifically, when he tweeted a week after the three Jewish teens were murdered that “more settlers should go missing,” he was called on it and responded that, by “go missing” he merely meant “get out of Palestine,” in other words “missing” as in “leave” as opposed to “be slaughtered.”

Note that the problem with what Salaita said has much less to do with the fact that he said it, and much more to do with the fact that he defended it later on.  I don’t know exactly where the line of horribleness is drawn, but murder of children — whether by Palestinian terrorists, Jewish terrorists, or the actions of both Hamas and the Israeli government in the Gaza war — is not something that ought ever make it into justifications of any sort for any party.  People in general don’t deserve to be killed, certainly civilians less than soldiers, and certainly children not at all.

And Salaita’s happy dancing around what he said rather than owning up to the wrongness of it … well it goes a long way to eliminating not only variant speech but indeed the ability to speak outside a narrow box.

It’s newspeak, in other words.

***

3. “I didn’t consult in the manner that I pride myself on normally doing,” I admit, I don’t remember exactly what Chancellor Wise’s construct was for justifying all the conversations that she had about Salaita before she un-hired him, you know those conversations she told the Committee on Freedom and Academic Tenure (CAFT) that she never had.

“Never” meaning, according to Wise’s later mid-course correction, that yes, she did have conversations but NEVER to the extent that she normally has conversations when she means to have conversations.  It was a conversation, but surely not a Wise-certified “CONVERSATION.”

Yes well.  Lying is lying is lying is lying, and no amount of constructing a bulwark of words around that core truth changes that truth.  Note that the circumstances Wise was referring to involved the discovery by samizdat-startups.org that Wise was talking to Nick Burbules and Joyce Tolliver the morning of the Salaita un-hiring (July 24,2014), something neither she nor Burbules nor Tolliver revealed.

Note also that the significance isn’t that she was talking to people — we could already have guessed that.  Instead, the significance is that she was doing a whole LOT of talking to a whole LOT of POWERFUL people, some of them clearly not administrators, something neither she (Wise) nor they (Adesida, Burbules, Tolliver) ever discussed.

Let’s also note that none of the emails that samizdat-startups.org found that showed this whole lot of talking going on were *ever* produced in any of the 12 UIUC FOIA productions made in 2014 — nowhere in that 1,600 odd pages of documents.

Nowhere.  Which is evidence not just of interpretation of the english language in some sort of Zen koan way (“What is the sound of conversation not to the level of Chancellor Wise’s high standards for “conversation”) but, put simply, of lying.

Lying, lying, lying.  And lying.

***

4. “It was perfectly ethical of me to not disclose my talking to Wise when I contributed to the ‘Gang of Five’ and other opinion pieces.”  Nick Burbules is apparently a professor of ethics, which I think is an admirable occupation.  When I was in law school I learned that conflicts were things you disclosed, and that non-disclosure was immoral, even when it didn’t seem (to you) that it was necessary (for you) to disclose those conflicts that some might think, upon discovery, made (you) look like a liar.

Well, I’m not a professor of ethics, so what do I know.  Professor Burbules has written that he didn’t need to reveal his conversations with Wise because, they weren’t conversations that would have been important like Wise talking to Warrior or other unit heads.  I’m recalling this slightly off the cuff, but that’s the gist of it, although I welcome clarification by Professor Burbules.


CORRECTION 6/25/15.

Per my conversation with Professor Burbules of 6/23, which I quote below:

[Nick,] Actually you’re right, although I [AOS] said in the second paragraph that what I was writing was a paraphrase, I didn’t do so in the first paragraph where I did provide quotes.  I thought the context of those quotes as roughly stating what was said rather than exactly stating it came across from the other numbered comments, but I agree it’s misleading.

Here’s what you’d written to me on the subject, I believe my distillation of what you said was accurate.  “It was per­fectly eth­i­cal of me to not dis­close my talk­ing to Wise when I con­tributed to the ‘Gang of Five’ and other opin­ion pieces” is what I said.  What you said was:

The representation here that I did not “disclose” these conversations suggests something nefarious. I was under no obligation to do so, unless you think that all faculty who expressed such views are obligated to make them public. I don’t know what that principle would be.1

That to me is awfully similar but I’ll be happy to put up that exactly language of yours with “nefarious” instead of “ethical” and so on.

END CORRECTION.


 

So fine.  People talk, and as long as it doesn’t ruffle their feathers to do so, why should it ruffle the feathers of anyone else or even be worth mentioning?  It’s merely public “curiosity” after all, not actual “concern.”

Newspeak.  Newspeak, newspeak, newspeak and newspeak.

***

5. “Anti-Zionist” isn’t anything to do with “anti-Israeli” or, God forbid, anti-Semitism.  I find this one particularly fascinating, and I’m the first to admit that I accept it as true in principle, but, in practice … not so much.

In principle, “anti-Zionist” apparently means against occupation of land that used to be Palestinian, which I guess makes sense apart from the fact that it depends upon the time-frame you’re referring to, and probably has different answers if you’re talking a biblical time-frame versus much much more recently.  But if the argument is simply and cleanly that Israel ought not expand to areas where people used to live, or — more plausible to me by far — that you can’t just kick people out of their houses because you want their land — then fine, maybe “anti-Zionist” has a concise meaning.

But the word always seems to be used in a larger context that fits far too many long-time ant-Semitic tropes.  For example, the whole narrative about rich “donors” without regard to ethnicity, “donors” who acted because they’re pro-Zionism, and not because they’re “pro-israel,” or … “Jews.”  And yet, the narrative is, oddly enough, exclusively about *Jewish* donors and not Carle hospital or billionaires in Champaign Urbana who, far as I know, aren’t Jewish (is Peter Fox?).

Recall there were exactly TWO emails that smelled of actual donors of any significance, and that significance was likely no more than 2-4% of a single year’s gifts to UIUC.  Carle, on the other hand, is putting up $100 million, and getting its name on the College of Medicine as a result.  So if it’s pure agnosticism with regard to ethnicity, why is it the focus is still on Jews with money (something of a stereotype as I recall) and not merely rich bastard corporations (Carle) or rich bastard developers (Fox) or rich bastards per se?

The language, you see, isn’t incidental.  It’s newspeak in the most basic sense of a language designed to frame an argument in a way that leads inevitably and only to a single conclusion.

Independent thought apparently need not apply.

***

6. “I will not work with anyone who works with Andrew, because he is harassing me.”  Laura Frerichs, head of the Research Park, said this about me in writing a number of years ago, the “harassment” referring to the fact that I’d been filling FOIAs on the rampant nepotism and profound mediocrity in the Research Park incubator and administration.2

This little verbal gem — “FOIA = harrassment” — is one that UIUC-FOIA also habitually uses in many/any/all of their impassioned arguments to the Illinois Attorney General’s office about how I’m a pain-in-their-collective-administrative-asses.  “Our recurrent requester,” they say, “he’s a RECURRENT REQUESTER,” they bray, “HE FILES SO MANY FOIAs IT’S NOT FAIR” they shout.

Sure, FOIA is a right, it’s a critical tool in the people uncovering abuses of power, and in fact it’s a right that I’ve practiced very parsimoniously to very very productive ends.

But take a right and call it subversive.  Take a powerful tool and call it meddling.  However you do it, the result’s the same, “FOIA = harassment,” and so let’s put an end to FOIAs.

***

I have more of course, but that’s enough of a diatribe for the moment.

  1. Actually I do think that all the faculty and administrators involved in the behind-the scenes decision-making about Salaita were obligated to disclose their actions, on a moral principle of avoidance of even an appearance of impropriety.  Note that I already flagged Robert Warrior’s apparently not revealing he talked to Wise the afternoon of the 23rd about Salaita, and I’ve already filed FOIAs to find out who on both sides of the discussion was involved and didn’t speak out to reveal that fact. []
  2. This is almost certainly tortious interference with business relations as well as tarnishment of my reputation.  But I digress, []

What to Expect … When You’re Expecting (FOIAs).

To quote from that great source of News, the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette regarding yesterday’s decision by the Champaign County court that UIUC must release documents related to Steven Salaita:

It could take weeks for the University of Illinois to review the nearly 10,000 documents ordered released by a Champaign County judge in the Steven Salaita case, a UI spokeswoman said Friday.

And it’s unclear what information might be “redacted,” or deleted, once the documents are released, based on lawyers’ arguments Friday.

(see FOIA Production May Take Weeks).  So in other words, while the court’s ruling is a positive step, reports of a resounding success have been greatly exaggerated.

To this point, consider what ultimately-produced documents will likely look like:

FOIAS_15-098-102_37-43-7

 

That incredibly illuminating bit of conversation is from FOIA-15-098_102, which are FOIA results of all emails sent by Chancellor Wise from 7/21-7/25, i.e., Salaita Week.

If your interest is piqued by this informative exchange, here’s the entire thing for your viewing pleasure: FOIAS_15-098-102_37-43

And if you want the WHOLE FOIA set, here you go, about 7 MB: FOIAS_15-098-102

So Who ELSE Was Involved?

Last week I got more FOIA results which — surprisingly — yet again shocked me.

Oh maybe “shocked” is too strong a word, let’s say … raised my hackles?  I don’t know, words continue to fail me here.

So first, here’s the most recent little tidbit of Chancellor Wise’s “not consulting to the level she holds herself to,” or whatever newspeak rendition she gave of her dissembling about the behind-the-scenes of the Salaita Affair:

15_108-112-49 copy

This was yet another email UIUC never released in response to those 27 FOIAs it got in 2014 about the Salaita Affair: this one is significant because it shows the involvement early on not only of another HR person (Sandy Jones, Associate Director of Academic HR), but also of Barb Wilson, formerly executive vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, now dean of LAS.

Well.  I don’t think anyone could be surprised that there was a whole lot more shaking going on behind the scenes at UIUC during July 21-25 than UIUC’s FOIA responses revealed, but once again, is the best way to deal with a crisis to hide as much information as possible?

Consider that this new email just raises more questions about what exactly happened and why none of this was disclosed in FOIAs filed in 2014, or, better yet, in public statements by the public officials who were paid by the public to be truthful and honest about what they were doing.

I don’t intend to practice any more high dudgeon on this, but I will say … there’s more coming.

Here’s More Information … You see if it Matches What Wise and Burbules Say

So the News-Gazette finally sat up and took notice, well, that’s good, I’ve only been informing them about this for the last 2 months: Gazette Recapitulates Scheinman With Little Credit

So good, it looks as if the CAFT finally found some ability to speak to power.

Some part of power’s responded (Wise, apparently not Burbules or Tolliver).  Here’s the whole FOIA result set, read it for yourself: FOIAS_15-098-102

 

 

UIUC And Spoliation of Evidence; More on UIUC/Salaita

Two more summary letters, the first on how the procedures at UIUC-FOIA encourage spoliation (destruction) of evidence … the second a recap of the need to pursue the alternative narrative in the Salaita case — the gorilla in the room is the $100M donor, Carle hospital, and that desperately needs to be investigated.

2015_04_23_SPOLIATION

2015_04_29_Carle_COM_Donor_Influence

Open Letter to the UIUC CAFT Committee

Over the weekend I sent a 26 page letter to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign “Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure” (CAFT) regarding deficiencies in their investigation of the Steven Salaita affair.

Specifically, I pointed out they did little if any evidence-gathering, including by either looking at already filed FOIAs or by filing FOIAs of their own.  They weren’t helped by UIUC either, which certainly failed to produce many important emails that, by and large, I’ve already discussed on this website.

I also point out that while the CAFT chose to address the question of “donor Jews,” they failed to do any investigating of this issue.  Had they investigated the question of donor influence generally, they’d certainly have ended up wanting to do some real digging about Wise’s relationship with Carle hospital and the rich and powerful individuals who were working with her behind the scenes to push forward the new College of Medicine.

Here’s the letter (about 3mb): 2015_04_24_OPEN_LETTER_TO_CAFT

travis

Another Important Email UIUC Never Found — but our DDoS-FOIA Crew Did.

Despite the fact that the Illinois Attorney General’s office has denied that samizdat-startups is a “news-media” outlet for the purposes of Illinois FOIA law, we continue to gather news.  That is, to work to file FOIAs to obtain unreleased (concealed) documents from UIUC (our current target of investigation), to analyze those documents (what the AG’s office pejoratively calls “mere commenting”), and to follow up with people who need to respond to the documents they’ve either never seen (the CAFT committee for example) or claim never to have seen (the top echelons of UIUC).

We now have another example — as you’ll recall the last one we discussed was an email that UIUC never released of Chancellor Wise herself extolling Steven Salaita’s free speech rights.  So now add to that an email from the UIUC fundraising people following up on the Jew donor1 Steve Miller’s email to Wise at 4:31 PM on the 23rd of July.

Specifically, here’s an email from Travis Smith to Molly Tracy forwarding on that Miller email, you’ll note the time of the Smith email is 5:58 PM:2

 

travis

 

Why is this never-released email significant?  Because there’s an already-released one from 12 minutes later at 6:11 PM to Wise about what to do about naughty Mr. Salaita, the “Dan, Molly and I discussed this …” email:3

 

20140723_6_11pm_NGUYEN_443_excerpt_39_ABOUT_MILLER

 

So we now know that Miller sent his email at 4:31, Travis forwarded it to Molly at 5:58, and just 12 minutes later Dan, Molly and Travis told Wise what to do about it, in a mostly-redacted email.

12 minutes, that’s pretty fast to have a confab of Travis and Dan and Molly, especially since Travis and Dan’s calendars show them both at parties until 6.  The conclusion is that UIUC fundraising was veritably smoking to act on Salaita, much more so than the emails UIUC managed to find suggest.

Now of course there are two storylines as to why the rush.  The “Blame the Jews” storyline is that pushy Jew donors demanded action.  The “It’s the Medical Center, Stupid” theory holds that Wise et al. had spent early July prepping for a hostile review by UIC on the medical center and then revving up to shill for Carle Hospital in its bed expansion.  So Salaita picked exactly the wrong moment to tweet, and Dan and Molly and Travis suggested something on the order of “get that guy out of here” to keep the profile low and focused.

No room for it here but samizdat-startups has more and more FOIAed evidence that supports the second storyline.  We’ve asked CAFT to comment and they haven’t.  We’re getting back to them with the new information.

Stay tuned.


 

  1. My phrasing, a rather unsubtle comment on the anti-semitism that seems to surround the too-frequent belief out there that “The Jews” are running the Salaita Affair, rather than, say, Big Developers like Peter Fox (is he Jewish?). []
  2. Actually, it’s not really 5:58, in fact there should be seconds on the time but they don’t show because when someone at UI forwards an email their system cuts out the seconds. []
  3. See also The Salaita Krampus []
strange_bedfellows

Strange bedfellows: UIUC and compliance procedures (of any sort).

I don’t think of myself as being very organized, my “procedures” for living my life consist mostly of placing my glasses and car keys and wallet in more-or-less the same spot in hopes of being able to find at least two of the three in the morning.1

 

1. Felony penalties for a university destroying/not keeping records.

On the other hand, Illinois public universities have exacting record-keeping duties.  That obviously includes such minor things as the Illinois Records Act, which imposes a felony penalty on someone who “alters, destroys, defaces, removes or conceals” a public record:2

 illinois_state_records_act_felony

 

2. Lots and lots of resources to help a little ‘ole university learn itself what has to be kept.

Of course, you might wonder what constitutes a “record” … but not to worry, there are actual flow-charts to help answer this question, at least if you’re a UIUC employee (from UIUC_Records_FlowChart):

 

UIUC_WhatIsARecord_Flowchart

 

I should add that — if the above isn’t clear enough — there’s also an entire webpage from the UI system’s Chief Information Officer (“CIO”) that provides still more detail about records, and record keeping, and how-tos and whys — see UI CIO.

 

3. UIUC actually has a procedure that mandates procedures.

As a result of such trivialities as the felony penalty laid out in the Illinois Records Act, UIUC has instituted on the internet a set of procedures for record-keeping, and a whole bunch of what appears to be requirements that actually should be followed by UIUC personnel:3

 

UIUC_RecordsDisposal

 

So UIUC itself informs itself that it (itself) ought have those things called “policies,” including specifically record retention/disposal policies.  And those should be done for each and every unit of UIUC.

 

4. And yet the Chancellor of UIUC apparently is procedure-free.

So given the above, you’d have thought that the Chancellor of UIUC would be equally as bound as anyone else there to have delineated procedures for record keeping and destruction.

Well, you’d be wrong.  So here’s a bit of a ruling by the Illinois Attorney General’s office (specifically the “Public Access Counselor” or “PAC”) on a FOIA filed by a samizdat-startups viewer and contributed to the site by that viewer:

 

2015_PAC_33010

 

Now maybe it’s unfair of me to conclude from the above that Chancellor Wise has no procedures at all — what the above seems to say is that there’s no record-keeping procedure specific to third-party records.

But this strikes me as ludicrous — lawyerly issue-ducking.  When the Chancellor (or anyone else at UIUC) gets a third-party document (like the “two-pager” that the Chancellor “can’t find”), what is the procedure for retaining or discarding it?

In other words, the document comes in the door or attached to an email — according to the law and UIUC procedures that document is supposed to be reviewed for possible compliance.

Is it?  UIUC doesn’t know, or won’t say.

I guess the next FOIA to them needs to ask something like “what procedure do you follow in processing a third-party document for possible retention as a “record” as defined in the Illinois Records Act and UIUC policies?”

Someone interested in asking this question?  I intend to ask it, would be great if others join in.

 


The marquee image is, of course, a Gustav Dore, I’ll be darned if I can find it in the “Mother Goose” at project Gutenberg, but it’s easily available if you do a search for Dore images.


 

 

  1. I try to do the same thing with my car when I go to a mall or grocery shopping, but something about either my age or my car makes it a certainty that, when I come out to find it, it’s absolutely not in the spot where I’m sure I left it. []
  2. Note that the Illinois Records Act applies to more than merely Illinois universities. []
  3. See UIUC Records Disposal []
uiuc_foia_listen

UIUC-FOIA: still a rogue office, still engaging in illegal behavior.

The UIUC-FOIA office continues to bother the DDoS-FOIA contributors, apparently still in blissful ignore of the binding PAC opinion 12-001.

Well what can you expect, they don’t have any written procedures, they don’t have a timestamp, they’re a veritable Sergeant Shultz of FOIA offices: “I know nothing! I see nothing! I hear nothing!”1

I imagine in time they’ll be forcibly disabused of their misapplication of the law, courtesy of appeals I think some of the DDoS-FOIA contributors will likely file.

But whether or not that happens, if anyone likes the idea of experimentation, how about if someone(s) out there file FOIA on some/any of the stuff I’ve talked about in prior blogs and say they’re explicitly doing it in conjunction with samizdat-startups.org, which qualifies for the news-media frequent-requester exemption.  And in a few days for the non-profit exemption too.

Let’s see how silly the UIUC-FOIA response is.  They seem not to be capable of listening to anything they say … or maybe they only listen to what they think they’re saying, a sort of hermetic go-round that has the real appeal of keeping reality (and the law) firmly at bay.

 


I’m embarrassed to say I can’t figure out which of my many bookmarked public domain image sites the marquee image came from.  My most heartfelt apologies to my readers, and to the happy old gent hearing his heart.


 

 

  1. You’re probably too young to know the reference.  See John Banner. []