* Orland Park Public Library Trustee Diane Jennings admitted in August 2014 that child porn had been accessed in the Library but staff didn’t call the police and then covered it up.
* The Library had to pay a $55,000 settlement in 2015 after it was sued twice for violating Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by excessively redacting documents it found embarrassing.
* This one public library in Chicago’s suburbs has become the poster child for everything that is wrong with government at the local level when it comes to aggressively fighting transparency laws.
The Orland Park Public Library (OPPL) has provided another example of outrageous conduct by a government body in Illinois: this time, it was flipping a metaphoric middle finger at us and seemingly outsourcing their FOIA redactions to the CIA. The same people who meticulously censor every word on pages of Top Secret reports on space aliens and that missing Malaysian jet in the South Pacific are now apparently moonlighting as the censors at America’s worst-run public library.
What makes this even more interesting is that this public body lost two lawsuits over censoring documents just last spring…but here it goes again, seemingly having learned nothing.
The Illinois Freedom of Information Act allows a public body only limited room to censor documents asked for in FOIA requests. The government is permitted to censor what the statute calls “exempt information.” This mostly involves the private information of employees or patrons (home addresses, home telephone numbers, private email addresses) and information that is legitimately attorney-client privileged. But the Freedom of Information Act does not allow a public entity to censor documents with wholesale CIA-grade redactions in giant blocks like the OPPL has done here.
Why Should You Care?
Our country is in the mess that it’s in because our government has decided that it hates the American people and so it intends to replace us with a population that is ignorant, timid, and unaccustomed to challenging those in power. Hence the massive push for open borders and the colonization of the United States by the Third World. The federal government is too big to bring back under control and will probably require a Second American Revolution to rein-in. Even many state governments (especially in places like Illinois) are too far steeped in corruption for people on the ground to realistically do anything about. But, local government bodies can indeed be cleaned up. They can be scrutinized, audited, and shamed when they violate the law. They can be course-corrected.
The Orland Park Public Library Board may be located in a little suburb of Chicago that you may have never heard of and probably don’t care about, but it has become a remarkable learning experience in terms of what can be accomplished using the Freedom of Information Act and the First Amendment Right to Petition to challenge the actions of a public body. For many years, this one public library had been knowingly looking the other way while men masturbated in the Library, sexually accosted small children, sexually harassed women (including female library employees), and used the OPPL’s unsecured and anonymous WiFi to access child pornography. All of this was discovered in the Library’s own internal incident reports, which the Library aggressively fought production of. It took attending month after month of Library board meetings to finally compel a Board Member (Diane Jennings) to admit that the child pornography had been allowed to be accessed and that staff were wrong to not call the police when things like that happened.
Illinois is in such sorry shape that public library boards are knowingly looking the other way when their buildings and resources are being used to access child pornography. That is how bad things have gotten in our country.
We are currently a nation where a public library — of all things — out in a suburb you’ve never heard of considers it normal practice to censor documents like this is the Soviet Union. The attitude is that they are part of the government, and the government in their view does not have to answer to the people or abide by things like the Freedom of Information Act or the Open Meetings Act. They don’t believe that the public has any recourse or right to challenge them.
I don’t believe you can change Washington from the top down and restore America to a nation of liberty and limited government. Washington is too powerful. I also don’t think you can clean-up our government by focusing on state capitals. Springfield, Illinois is too powerful. I think a bottom-up strategy of activism and advocacy is the key to rooting out corruption. And, yes, even entities as obscure and minute as a public library board need scrutiny and sustained criticism to force changes that bring them in line with the law.
The lesson of Orland Park is that the culture of corruption that plagues our country has metastasized down to the lowest levels of government to the point where even public library boards are doing horrific things like allowing child pornography and sex crimes to occur in these public buildings…and when caught doing that, these local government boards claw and scratch and lash out at anyone that criticizes them. The corruption cannot be battled in Springfield or Washington until it is driven out of places like Orland Park on the local level first.
Think of Orland Park as a case study that highlights some things you can start doing today where you live that would shake up the status quo. We as individuals might not be able to personally impact the goings-on at the federal level…but we can all impact our local communities.
My theory is that if enough “We’re Not Going to Take It Anymore” noise is made at the local level all over the country, then the County and State government officials will take notice (and fear for their own jobs). In time, that’s how Washington will be forced to change…as the power foundation it rests upon is shaken in every state capital and county seat.
This all reminds me of the Allies taking back Europe village by village, town by town, city by city in World War II. The strategy then was not just to throw everything they had at Paris or Rome or Berlin. Instead, they pushed evil out of sleepy hamlets and little communities no one had ever found on a map before. It was a bottom-up strategy for winning a long war against an occupying power.
In our own country, the reality is that the Left has achieved a stranglehold over much of our nation, down to the local level. The Left has mostly won the Culture War…so much so that public libraries not only are caught allowing child pornography to be accessed but then they cover it up by censoring or hiding documents that prove their wrongdoing. Over the last few decades when most people weren’t paying attention or watching, Marian the Librarian from Music Man became a hardcore Leftist who now sees her primary role to be allowing sex crimes to go unreported in libraries because the sexualization of children and the normalization of deviant behavior in public are two chief goals of the Left (in the broader scheme of destroying what’s left of American families…which alienates children from their parents and makes them more susceptible to the ambitions of the state).
Library boards. School boards. Park district boards. County boards. None of these government entities have had any oversight from the public for decades because people have stopped paying attention at the local level. If you start FOIA-ing these entities for their internal incident reports and spending documents, you will be shocked by what you find. Abuses of power…lavish spending in violation of state laws…sex crimes being overlooked and covered-up…no-bid contracts…graft, corruption, and myriad other sins.
I sometimes think the reason the Left wins so often is that it’s like an octopus or hydra with tentacles everywhere, always moving and doing something terrible…and good people who have a natural urge to fight that never know where to start. So they become overwhelmed. They don’t have a plan for taking on the larger beast.
That’s why starting in your own communities matters. With one local board that you can personally take charge of and start overseeing. One board of elected officials near you that you can audit and scrutinize and get to know by attending their meetings. If you investigate them and find they are not doing anything wrong, then move on to another board in your area and keep looking until you find a public body that is willfully breaking the law. Then exercise your First Amendment Right to Petition in whatever way you can think of until you compel that public body to stop doing whatever terrible things it is doing. Make it your hobby to follow these boards’ activities the way that some people follow the happenings of various sportsball teams. You would be surprised at how exciting and interesting this can all become, especially when the public bodies lash out at you and try to scare you away.
You might never be able to imagine a library board clawing and scratching like a legion of demons in The Exorcist when caught doing evil, but that’s exactly what happened in Orland Park. And even when seemingly defeated, the evil vows to return if people stop watching and stop paying attention…hence the latest round of CIA-redacted censorship of documents that now must be challenged.
It really is a never-ending war against the Left that must be fought for liberty’s cause at the lowliest local level until the day when absolutely everyone working in government becomes afraid of the public catching them breaking the law and the real consequences that come from that.
© 2016, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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