Right to Know: A welcome rebuke
A commonsense Commonwealth Court ruling ensures that the state's Office of Open Records can do its job. But the fact that this case was brought at all indicates how far Pennsylvania still has to go to guarantee government transparency.
Activist Beverly Schenck, a former supervisor in Center, Butler County, filed an open records request seeking invoices for that township's solicitor. Center provided invoice copies — minus key figures. Ms. Schenck appealed to the Office of Open Records for a confidential hearing by a judge who would review the invoices and decide whether they should be made public.
The township refused to provide the invoices to the office, contending they were exempt from public release on grounds of attorney-client and attorney-work product privilege and the office didn't have authority to demand them. But a Commonwealth Court panel ruled that the Office of Open Records indeed has that authority under the Right to Know Law.
Ruling otherwise would have hamstrung the Office of Open Records, which has to be able to examine documents in question to decide such issues. Sadly, though, the township's stance shows that some government officials persist in absurdly believing that the public has no business knowing the public's business.
Only when that arrogant, government-knows-best mindset is replaced by one with proper regard for the public's right to know will Pennsylvania truly approach the level of government transparency its citizens and taxpayers deserve.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- The Thursday wrap
- Signing Michael Vick: Personal baggage & professional talent
- Witnesses can help
- Alle-Kiski Tuesday takes
- The markets: Easy money’s slap
- Saturday essay: Brinkley Helen
- The PBS/HBO deal: More, more, more
- The Pa. pensions debate: Union hypocrisy
- Mon-Yough Tuesday takes
- Dream Team honor
- Greater Pittsburgh’s ‘brain gain’