Quinn threatens lawsuit while demanding release of IG report detailing Little Village smokestack demolition

Seeking a still-secret report on how City Hall bungled a smokestack demolition in Little Village, former Gov. Pat Quinn filed a formal Freedom of Information Request on Monday.

"The Inspector General's report should be disclosed. The mayor's not following that. And she ought to catch up," Quinn said.

A spokesman for Mayor Lori Lightfoot indicated that she will not release it.

Former Gov. Quinn said this afternoon that he's prepared to take Mayor Lightfoot to court to force the release of the report that apparently includes plenty of embarrassing details about her administration's handling of the demolition 2-1/2 years ago in April 2020.


"The mayor's stonewalling. We gotta let the light in. The Illinois Freedom of Information Act is pretty clear that people are entitled to information about their government. Especially about a demolition of a 440-foot smokestack that was botched and ended up with a cataclysmic dust storm going through the entire neighborhood," Quinn said.

City officials said an analysis showed dust spread across Little Village did not contain toxic materials. The mayor's spokesman said that, since then, Lightfoot's administration has strengthened the rule governing such demolitions, as well as the fines for violations.

Quinn, who says he'll decide next month whether to run for mayor, noted that Lightfoot ran in 2019 promising to re-establish a city department of the environment, which had been cut to save cash by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Sun-Times reported this month that, prior to the demolition, a city inspector warned other officials that a huge dust cloud might result and made specific recommendations to reduce the risk. It's not clear that any of his warnings were heeded.

"There's a municipal provision in the city code that says when you have a matter that may involve criminal liability and is a matter of high public interest, that means that the Inspector General report should be disclosed," Quinn said.

If Mayor Lightfoot declines to release the report soon, Quinn said he's prepared to file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.