Evanston city clerk staff will expand to handle increased FOIA requests

Sammy Caiola

Evanston City Clerk Rodney Greene received City Council approval Tuesday to hire a second deputy clerk after an initial rejection three months ago.

The council voted unanimously to hire another deputy clerk who will work alongside existing deputy clerk Elaine Autwell.

The addition of a new staff position was necessary, Greene said, because of a recent increase in Freedom of Information Act requests. The new hire will help Greene and Autwell manage the increased workload.

“To really give complete and excellent customer service and to reopen the office all day, I need another person in the office.” Greene said.

When Greene presented this idea to City Council the first time in February, he asked to hire two part-time employees for a total of $34,000 a year. After receiving little support from the council, Greene changed his game plan and asked for one part-time employee at $17,500 for the year.

At the April 10 city council meeting, Greene gave a presentation and spoke in greater detail than he did last year, he said. Ultimately, all nine council members voted to approve Greene’s request.

“It’s apparent to me that based on the workload he has and the existing staff, he needs additional help to be sure that all of the things that need to get done get done in a timely fashion, and it’s not an undue burden on Rodney and Autwell,” Ald. Don Wilson (4th) said Tuesday.

Evanston residents can obtain public records by filing FOIA request forms, as set forth by the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. There were 118 FOIA requests filed between Jan.1 and March 22 of this year, a jump from the 94 requests filed within the same period last year, Greene said. This increase, on top of the city clerk’s other responsibilities