Okon, Herald-News Sue Joliet Over Naming Rights Agreement

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JOLIET, IL — A daily newspaper in Joliet has filed a lawsuit against the city of Joliet surrounding the details of the stadium naming rights agreement for the city-owned downtown baseball park used by the Joliet Slammers. Monday’s lawsuit lists the plaintiff as Joliet Herald-News city hall reporter Bob Okon, Shaw Media, and their attorney, Donald M. Craven, of Springfield, Ill.

The Herald-News is a subsidiary of Shaw Media, according to court records.

More than 13 months ago, on July 2, 2019, Okon made a public records request to Joliet for a "copy of full naming rights agreement for city-owned Joliet Route 66 Stadium, also known as DuPage Medical Group Field," this week’s lawsuit states.

City officials responded by denying Okon’s request in full, "simply stating that it possessed no responsive records," his lawsuit states.

On July 11, 2019, Okon appealed his open records request denial to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. On May 7, 2020, the Attorney General’s staff determined that the Freedom of Information Act required Joliet "to provide Mr. Okon with a copy of the agreement between Joliet Baseball and DuPage Medical Group reflecting the cost of the naming rights," the lawsuit states.

"To date, the city has not released any records or given any exemptions under FOIA as to why the records cannot be released," the plaintiffs argue.

Craven contends that Joliet "intentionally and in bad faith violated the FOIA when it denied, and continues to deny, Mr. Okon’s FOIA request in failing to release the requested records which concern a matter of great public interest."

The lawsuit asks Will County’s judges to compel Joliet to release the unredacted records requested by Okon, award attorneys fees, costs and civil penalties in Okon’s favor and against the city of Joliet.

26-Delivered

via Joliet, IL Patch

August 4, 2020 at 05:31PM

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