A man who has been denied copies of blueprints used to renovate commercial property on Madison Street is suing the mayor, arguing that the village’s top elected official has no legal grounds for rejecting the request.
In April, Jon Kubricht sought copies of those drawings for the building at 7321 Madison. His request included property identification numbers and spelled out that he wanted to see the plans used in designing Healy’s, Cocina Lobos, Jimmy John’s and a telecommunications company moving into the building, Icomm.
On the same day that Kubricht submitted his request in writing, April 8, Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz signed a letter denying his application. In that letter, Moritz cited a portion of the state’s Freedom of Information Act that allows governing bodies to withhold such records “to the extent that disclosure would compromise security,” according to the statute.
In an April 13 appeal filed with the municipality, Kubricht argues that the records are not exempt, and he again asks for copies. He also makes clear that if his appeal is denied by the mayor, he would ask the Cook County Circuit Court to overrule.
“The information which I have requested is clearly releasable under FOIA and, in my opinion, may not validly be protected by any of the Act’s exemptions,” Kubricht wrote.
On May 4, Mayor Anthony Calderone denied Kubricht’s appeal, again citing the same exemptions used by the village clerk. Calderone also wrote that he interpreted the law to shield those drawings for which public money is not involved.
“For projects not funded with public money, you do not have access to either review or copy these documents,” Calderone said in his denial.
However, the mayor also states in his letter that he would allow Kubricht to view the blueprints, but that Kubricht would not be permitted to make copies. Kubricht filed his complaint with the circuit court on June 4.
In an interview regarding Kubricht’s suit, Calderone indicated another reason altogether for denying the request. “Copyright infringement issues,” he said, are a growing concern, and the architects who design these projects don’t want to see their work duplicated elsewhere.
“Apparently, this whole copyright issue is something coming to the forefront in the architectural world,” Calderone said.
The section of the state law cited by both the mayor and village clerk in their denial letters makes no reference to copyright.
The property for which these records apply is owned in part by Commissioner Mark Hosty. In denying the request, Calderone said in no way does the building’s ownership influence his decision.
Attorney Jim Betke filed the complaint on behalf of Kubricht. He said the mayor’s reasoning “doesn’t make any sense,” and in his brief to the court argues that the village does not understand the law.
“In denying plaintiff’s request for copies of the blueprints, defendant misread the exemption,” Betke said in a brief filed with the court. “Although defendant stated … that plaintiff was not entitled to either review or copy the requested documents because the building was not funded with public money, that is not what the exemption says. Rather, architects’ plans and related construction documents are only exempt from disclosure, whether or not the building is fund [sic] with public money, where disclosure would compromise security.”
Calderone is the lone defendant in the complaint and had not yet filed a response with the court.
Kubricht declined to comment.