Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Net the Truth Online blog Excellent Reporting PA Open Records Issue

Daily Courier letter-to-the-editor by former PA State legislator, Larry Roberts, commends Net the Truth Online for Excellent Reporting results on the PA Open Records issue. The commentary is much appreciated. Our blog posts don't cater to anyone politically as a review will show. The blog attempts to hold everyone accountable for what they do or don't do.

For instance, the version of open records legislation proposed in the House of Representatives by freshman legislator Tim Mahoney simply put was bad from the start.

Before its consideration in the PA State Government Committee (Wednesday, October 17, 2007), the bill itself contained almost two-dozen exemptions. At its heart, the Mahoney bill includes a feature which makes it insufficient at this time to obtain full open records reform. The bill would only apply to future records produced after the legislation takes effect and already existing open records. Material which has not been open will remain closed.

The Mahoney bill, House Bill 443, as we've stated before, opens the door a bit, only to close it smack in the face of the public.

We've questioned why.

What is there to fear by opening all records to public scrutiny barring any which might pertain to the nation or state's national or state security?

After the Mahoney bill's consideration in the PA State Government Committee, media darling and reformer Tim Potts called the legislation the Corruption Protection Act.

Only the AP reports picked up by a few Philadelphia-based newspapers noted the scathing charge.

As well, we have been concerned with the Newspaper Association's former blanket support for the Mahoney bill when the association was surely well aware of its contents.

It seemed they were more than willing to be complicit in rushing anything through the state General Assembly rather than have a more deliberative process which got it all right from the beginning.

From June until recently, the passopenrecords site (blog) (created by the PA Newspaper Association) has contained little more than glowing commentary for the House bill sponsored by Rep. Tim Mahoney and supported by Rep. H. William DeWeese, House Majority leader.

Only after the PA State Government Committee made a bad bill worse did the PA Newspaper Association pull its own support from the Mahoney bill and throw its support to the Senate bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi...

Only after that action did the blog change course.

We've questioned why the Press which was present at a Capitol Rotunda press conference (Monday, October 15, 2007) sponsored by the organization passopenrecords was apparently missing-in-action when Mahoney and others were spinning the House legislation.

They failed to ask any further questions of state Representative Tim Mahoney at the conference when they had the chance, and later, Rep. Mahoney was unavailable to a reporter seeking further clarification of his press conference comments.

See our blog post concerning the passopenrecords press conference viewed first-hand on the PCN channel.

Citizen Discontent Open Records Exemptions

Note the blog post reporting on the same conference entitled Yesterday for the date of October 16, 2007. What's missing?

What's missing is a flogging Rep. Mahoney and other speakers who still supported Mahoney's bill despite his own commentary it would not apply to the past records which were not open. Mahoney at the time stated: we don't need more investigations.

Yet the site doesn't flog Mahoney?

Instead, here is what they stated in Yesterday

You can read the press release from yesterday’s event here.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Harrisburg Patriot-News, the Scranton Times-Tribune, the Carlisle Sentinel , the Bucks County Courier Times and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covered the event. Whew! That’s just the news coverage - on the editorial page, the Allentown Morning Call wrote about open records reform along with the Uniontown Herald Standard and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

And we also announced the winners of PNA’s Open Records Challenge: Alan Trexler a student at Lock Haven University, and Bob Spurdle, a resident of Wayne. Congratulations to both.

Remember, if you want to see open records reform, we need your help - contact your legislator today and urge them to vote for open records reform.

Beverly Schenck summed up what a lot of us are feeling when she told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “I don’t want a bill that’s simply there to make it look like they’re doing something. I want some actual action. The more exceptions, the more opportunities there will be for [government officials] to deny access to information people should have.”

Why urge people to contact their legislators, that day, to vote for the House bill when there were bubbling doubts about it?

Had the org's bloggers even read the legislation prior to posting on the day of the press conference?

A Fresh Breeze is Blowing
Oct 15th, 2007 by JamieB

On the morning of our press conference at the Capitol, there is a real hum of excitement about the possibility of meaningful open records legislation soon. . . .

PNA/ Press Conference Monday
Oct 11th, 2007 by dani_k

This all may sound a bit harsh, but seriously, the org has access many other bloggers around the state simply don't have. They need to be even more forceful in their skepticism, not less.

Currently, the site is analyzing the Senate bills pertaining to open records.

That's a commendable service to the public. Hopefully, news reporters who have immediate access to the sponsors of these bills will ask the necessary follow-up questions so the public can have all of information needed to make informed decisions.

Hopefully, won't rush to urge support - when bills are wrong for PA from the beginning.

also see Net the Truth Online sidebar or conduct blog search

Pass Given to Mahoney on Bad Bill?

PA Newspaper Publishers Retract Support for Open Records (Corruption Protection Act)

Newspaper suppresses House Bill Corruption Protection Act

Mahoney Open Records Bill Called Corruption Protection Act

PA Rep. Tim Mahoney Unavailable to Explain Public Records Exemptions

Citizen Discontent Open Records Exemptions

Open Records for PA Exempted General Assembly

Some criminal court records already "closed" and won't be opened if Mahoney bill stands as is...

Mixed bag
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Posted 9:01 PM by Dave Ralis

(Net the Truth Online)

Open-records 'joke'
Daily Courier
Saturday, October 27, 2007

As someone has said, the open-records legislation that came out of the House committee would best be called the Corruption Protection Act. The bill is nothing but a joke.

However, everything the committee failed to do for open records can easily be rectified by the amendment process from the House floor.

Let's all watch to see who does what.

In the meantime, I encourage all your readers who might be interested in open records to check out When you find the Web site, go to research and type in open records. There are numerous comments there and excellent reporting results on the open-records issue.
Larry Roberts


The writer is a retired state legislator from Uniontown.

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