June 23, 2014

Mary Frances O’Connor: (312) 821-9026
Robert Herguth: (312) 821-9030

CHICAGO—McPier has been a political playground for years.

Now the government agency – which oversees McCormick Place and Navy Pier, and is formally known as the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority – is playing a new game: Withholding public information.

The Better Government Association recently filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court as a result.

If you don’t see the video above, click here and watch it on WTTW.

In 2011, McPier helped create a nonprofit to operate Navy Pier, the government-owned lakefront tourist destination. Called Navy Pier Inc., the nonprofit is refusing to release basic records, including payroll and internal policies, so the Better Government Association can assess how taxpayer resources are being managed. McPier also refused to turn over those records.

As a result, the BGA sued McPier and Navy Pier Inc., claiming they’re violating the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, the state law commonly known as FOIA that guarantees public access to most public documents.

“It’s inconceivable that government officials would create a nonprofit, and then use that nonprofit as a shield, preventing the public from taking a rightful look at the books,” said BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw. “What are they hiding?”

The Better Government Association sues Navy Pier’s operators over lack of transparency / WBEZ

“Navy Pier is public property and known as the ‘People’s Pier,’ which means the public has a right to know what’s going on there.”

The BGA not only seeks records, but also a pledge moving forward that Navy Pier Inc. and McPier will abide by FOIA.

For more on the BGA’s legal actions, please see:


The Better Government Association is a Chicago-based nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog group that works for integrity, transparency and accountability in government by exposing corruption and inefficiency; identifying and advocating effective public policy; and engaging and mobilizing the public to achieve authentic and responsible reform.

Image credit: Flickr user Ben Grey, Navy Pier Ferris Wheel (CC BY-SA 2.0)