Monday evening, Oak Park’s village board accepted the joint recommendations of Village Clerk Vicki Scaman and Village Manager Cara Pavlicek on how to move ahead in the handling of Freedom of Information Act requests for public information.

This had become a sticking point between the two public officials and something of a rallying cry for critics of both Pavlicek and Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb. 

To their credit, both officials sat down last week and sorted out the issues. Their recommendations offer clarity in roles while maintaining the staffing and technology efficiencies that had driven recent procedural changes.

The village clerk is now the designated chief FOIA officer for the village, a designation that had not been officially made in the nine years since the state’s updated FOIA law took effect. As the chief FOIA officer, the village clerk will receive notifications of all incoming FOIA requests. The clerk and manager will work together to identify any work flow issues related to FOIAs. 

These are good steps forward. We’re glad that the refinements build on the improved software technology that village hall has been aggressively adopting in all aspects of system management over the past several years. These changes were long in coming and they have, as in the case of FOIA processing, allowed a head count reduction at the hall. 

We are hopeful that this productive conversation will allow the elected clerk and the appointed manager to work toward other beneficial changes. Under the current system, the clerk does have a unique role as the only elected official with a full-time job and salary within village hall. However, the various duties assigned to the clerk over past decades, with the exception of required record and minutes keeping, haven’t been logical or efficient. Changes have been necessary. 

Going forward, Pavlicek could be more politic in undertaking any further changes in the clerk’s duties. And Scaman needs to prove the case for why the clerk’s role remains more than a holdover from past times.

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