Ruling that Rosemont must release venue finances will stand

Daily Herald report
Updated 12/1/2017 4:18 PM

The Illinois Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling that Rosemont must release financial records about entertainment venues that are owned by the village.

That appellate court ruling arose from a 2015 case in which the Better Government Association sued for release of rental contracts and financial incentives at the Allstate Arena and Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, which the village owns.

The village had redacted information about the financial terms in contracts for shows, concerts and other events at the venues in 2014, arguing that the information amounted to "trade secrets" and was exempt under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Rosemont officials say revealing certain details would put its venues at a competitive disadvantage.

The First District Appellate Court in June upheld a circuit court's decision that the FOIA law's trade secrets exemption doesn't apply to information like rental rates supplied by a public entity to a private contractor.

The three-judge panel also took exception with Rosemont's November 2014 ordinance barring public disclosure of "confidential financial and proprietary information" about the village's entertainment venues. The judges said state FOIA law "precludes Rosemont from creating additional restrictions on public access to information."

Though Rosemont is among 214 Illinois towns whose home-rule authority grants broader governing powers, that doesn't extend to altering public disclosure laws, the court said. "Only state statutes may create additional restrictions on disclosure of information," the appellate decision said.

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