A Cook County judge has ruled that a collection of blueprints filed with village hall does not have to be turned over to a resident who’s asking for copies of the drawings. In a brief, hand-written decision filed Dec. 16, Judge Stuart Palmer did not elaborate on his reasons for agreeing that Mayor Anthony Calderone does not have to provide the plaintiff, Jon Kubricht, with any copies.
The case dates back to April when Kubricht filed a written request with the municipality. Specifically, Kubricht sought to obtain copies of the designs used for Healy’s, Cocina Lobos, and Jimmy John’s, all of which are restaurants, and Icomm, a telecommunications firm. Each business is located at 7321 Madison, which is owned by Commissioner Mark Hosty. Kubricht’s initial request was denied by the village clerk, who cited an exemption in the state’s Freedom of Information Act that guards against any disclosure that “would compromise security.”
Calderone upheld that decision, in part, when Kubricht filed an appeal with the mayor. Calderone did allow Kubricht to see the documents but would not provide copies.
Debated before the court was section 7(1)(k) of the state law, which explains that technical records related to construction may be exempt from public scrutiny. The passage raises the issue of security, though lists examples of government properties – not private development – for which safety may be a reason for withholding such records.
“There is nothing inherently secret or confidential about architectural blueprints, especially once a building has been erected and opened to the general public,” Kubricht’s attorney, James Betke, said in a brief filed with the court.
In June, after Kubricht asked the court to intervene, Calderone told the Review that “copyright infringement issues” were also a concern, and that he denied Kubricht’s request to protect the architects who created the designs. Written arguments submitted to the court by either side made no mention of copyright infringement.
Betke also argued in an October filing that the specific way in which the statute is written – the absence of a potentially critical comma – supports the release of the documents.
The defense disagreed.
“Plaintiff … incredibly asks this court to make an absurd interpretation of the plain language of the statute based upon the lack of punctuation in the statute,” defense attorney Melissa Miroballi said in a December response. “This argument is unpersuasive and merely an attempt to divert the court’s attention from a clear and plain reading of the language of the statute.”