What is FOIA Gras?

This newsletter is concerned about transparency and accountability in government, primarily in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Most of the content of this newsletter are FOIA requests (and occasional opinion) on the local school district, District 65 Evanston/Skokie. Sometimes I might share other FOIA requests I’ve submitted if they’re novel.

I believe in the following precepts:

  • Transparency in governance is important to a well-functioning community.

  • Transparency includes both the financial and the political. Not just how money is being spent but why and to whose benefit.1

  • All government agencies should support transparency and not hide behind rules, exceptions, and political cover.

  • Lack of transparency leads to misuse of funds, lack of accountability, and a break down of trust in a community.

  • The death of local media (especially here in Suburban Chicagoland) has led to almost no transparency or accountability in local governance. This is especially true for smaller agencies, such as school boards. This role is fundamentally up to citizens now.

What’s the political bias of this newsletter?

While this newsletter may be critical of Evanston government and leadership, this is not a right-aligned newsletter. I strongly believe in freedom of speech and even entertaining opinions I disagree with, but I’m tired of people acting in bad faith and I won’t entertain it here.

How can you help?

Pay me money, I guess! It will go towards literal paperwork expenses like printing, scanning, pens, manilla file folders, domain names, that kind of stuff.

Is there a HOT TIP line?

Yes, well, sort of. If you want to send me a hot tip you can find me:

  • On signal: Add me: +13132479453

  • On email: Send an email to thayden@gmail.com - there are a ton of anonymous email services out there, just make one and drop an email to me.

Tips I do not want:

  • Anyone’s personal information, including mortgage information or deeds or stuff like that.

Tips I do want:

  • Things that I can FOIA that might reveal something interesting

What’s the deal with the name?

The name is a play on words!

What is your logo?

It is an AI generated picture of a duck on a Greek column, generated using OpenAI’s DALL-E tool. How cool is that?

About the Author

The author, Tom Hayden, lives in Evanston Illinois. He runs a small business in the corrosion industry and has a elementary-age child. You can email him direction at thayden@gmail.com.

1

Note: transparency and accountability doesn’t mean you have to agree with the political decisions made! But you should at least be aware of the trade-offs, which makes everyone more informed. Politics is inherently a game of winners and losers.

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Tom Hayden

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