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Warden v. Byrne

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 4, 1981.

ROB WARDEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JANE BYRNE, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES C. MURRAY, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WILSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal is taken from a judgment of the trial court ordering defendant to file reports of independent consultants pursuant to the Municipal Reference Librarian Ordinance, section 23.7 of the Municipal Code of Chicago. On appeal, defendant essentially asserts that she was a private citizen at the time the transition team reports were commissioned and they are, therefore, not subject to disclosure under this ordinance. The pertinent facts follow.

On June 28, 1979, plaintiff Rob Warden filed a petition for writ of mandamus against Jane Byrne, Mayor of Chicago. The petition, supported by affidavit and exhibits, allege that defendant had received reports prepared by individuals known as the transition team and chaired by Louis Masotti, Director of Urban Affairs at Northwestern University. The transition team was formed by defendant shortly after her election and thereafter compiled six volumes of reports and recommendations on the urban conditions of Chicago and the administration of city government. *fn1 These reports were submitted to defendant on April 26, 1979, after she assumed office. Defendant's reply to requests for copies of these reports indicated that they were campaign documents and not subject to disclosure under this ordinance. However, a copy of a newspaper interview with Masotti, submitted as a supporting document, stated that the confidentiality of these reports was never discussed between him and defendant and that some team members approached this project with the understanding that their program recommendations would be publicly implemented.

Warden asserts that he has an interest in the transition papers as a citizen, resident and taxpayer of the city of Chicago, and as editor of the Chicago Lawyer. Further, that defendant was required to submit these reports pursuant to the Municipal Reference Librarian Ordinance and that she has not done so.

Defendant filed a motion to strike and dismiss Warden's petition alleging that Warden lacked standing, the petition failed to state a cause of action and that as a matter of law the reports were not within the purview of the ordinance and that disclosure of such would constitute an invasion of privacy. This motion was denied with the trial court finding that the disclosure of the report was a fact question. Application to take an interlocutory appeal was denied, whereupon defendant elected to stand on her motion to dismiss. Judgment was entered in favor of Warden on his petition, but enforcement was stayed pending this appeal.

OPINION

The issue before us on review is whether the transition team reports, commissioned after defendant's election but before she officially assumed office, and submitted after she did assume the office of mayor, are subject to disclosure under chapter 23, section 7 of the Municipal Code. Defendant has contended that these reports were the private undertaking of a group of citizens.

Pertinent provisions of the ordinance in question state that:

"The Municipal Reference Librarian shall perform the following duties:

Collect from the Mayor and the head of each Department, Commission or Agency of the City three copies of each report, document, study or publication prepared by independent consultants, or other independent contractors. It shall be the duty of the Mayor and the head of each Department, Commission or Agency of the City to transmit three copies of each report, document, study or publication, within five days after receipt thereof, to the Municipal Reference Library. It shall be the duty of the Municipal Reference Librarian to transmit a copy of each report, document, study or publication prepared by an independent consultant or other independent contractors to the Chairman of the Committee on Finance. However, any report, document, study or publication of the following types shall not be transmitted to or collected by the Municipal Reference Library:

(1) Reports or memoranda of attorneys or investigators in preparation for or contemplation of litigation;

(2) Reports relating to land acquisition by the City including but not limited to appraisals, title opinions, engineering reports and planning studies concerning the specific location of public improvements;

(3) Reports relating to current or contemplated investigatory or operating procedures of the Police Department or Fire Department;

(4) Reports or materials relating to a specific test or tests for use of the Department of Personnel in ...


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