Wednesday, October 24, 2007

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

Astounding. Finally the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association steps forward and pulls its support for Pennsylvania House Bill 443, originally submitted by state Representative Timothy Mahoney and amended by the State Government Committee last week.

But the bill was flawed from the getgo, before amendments were made to it in the PA State Government Committee. And the local news media - including the Tribune-Review and Herald-Standard - failed to give the public (constitutents of Rep. Mahoney) a thorough review of the bill in the interests of "public education."

After the committee action amended Mahoney's bill further away from true open records, well-known "reform" activist and media darling, Tim Potts, afterwards tagged the legislation the Corruption Protection Act.

An AP report publicized the comment (picked up by newspapers around the state), but it went unreported in the local area newspapers.

One of the features of the original bill submitted last March by state Rep. Timothy Mahoney (D-51st) has yet to be altered or amended. It stands as is. The original legislation would apply the open records directive to records currently open, not past records, and future records starting at the date the legislation takes effect.

Criticism has focused from these quarters on that aspect of the bill. What is there in the past that needs to be hidden from public view?

The PA Newspaper Association, according to reports, has withdrawn its support from the Mahoney bill and instead appears to be throwing its support to the Senate bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.

According to the Herald-Standard, here's what Rep. Mahoney has said about his own bill after the Association nixed its support.

The association withdrew its support for Mahoney's bill last week partly because it would allow governments to deny requests that officials deem burdensome.

Mahoney said on Tuesday that he was hopeful that his legislation would be amended to remove that language and make other improvements.

"There are going to be a lot of major changes to the bill that came out of committee, and that's what I was hoping for," Mahoney said. "I just wanted the bill to move out of committee so it can get in front of the whole House where it deserves to be."

Rep. Mahoney is hopeful his legislation will be amended to remove language and make other improvements? Why not remove the language from your own bill and make those improvements on your own? Why wait for all the other legislators to rip apart your own bill?

Rep. Mahoney says he "was hoping for" the "major changes" ??? When? Once it gets to the floor of the whole House of Representatives?

Why not make the major changes yourself, since you know major changes are needed?

Rep. Mahoney just wanted his bill to move out of committee so it can get in front of the whole House...

Seriously, why didn't Rep. Mahoney withdraw all of the portions of his own bill he knew were in need of "major changes" and which were under attack by the PA Newspaper Association, and others, once they discovered them?

How simple of an action for Rep. Mahoney to have delayed consideration of his bill "to do it right" the first time out and delete those sections of his own bill before he allowed the State Government Committee to amend.

Why rush a bill through - there's only one reason - your own politicial interests over and above the interests of the public you are supposed to serve.

Rep. Mahoney should hear from his constitutents.

It's unlikely he will when our area newspapers have failed in their public service to challenge the offensive contents of the Mahoney legislation from its inception.

The Newspaper Association isn't blameless either. They hurriedly supported anything and everything initially, without exacting specifics prior to the submission of the Mahoney bill to the State Government Committee. They were complicit in its rushed action.

Worse, the site, linked just about everywhere - that site was created by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.

Doesn't that call into question the so-called press conference last Monday, when The Press had an opportunity during the conference to further question Rep. Tim Mahoney publicly about the exemptions in his submitted bill before it made its way to the State Government Committee.

It does. The Pennsylvania Newspaper Association wanted as quick action as did the legislators sponsoring the legislation.

That isn't serving the public.

We questioned the news media's lack of pressing for answers then.

Now they've pulled their support for Mahoney's bill, and are going where?

Elsewhere. But will that support be as hurried and rushed, with as disastrous consequences for the public?

We'll have to see. Advice: Do it right, or DON'T DO IT AT ALL.

Hey we beat em on the PA Newspaper Assoc pulling its support!

Public Records Bill Comes Under Fire; Critics Say The House Proposal, Aimed At Strengthening State Law, Is Weakened By Too Many Exemptions. (10-29-07)

Putting a fresh angle on the debate for open records, PNA has created a blog,, that will allow citizens from across the state to get involved in the campaign.

The effort is focused on state legislation to expand Pennsylvania’s open records law, considered one of the most restrictive in the nation.

Newspaper association solicits public support for open records reform

Pennsylvania Newspaper Association

Freedom of Information Blog

Tim Potts September early warning comments about Tim Mahoney original bill (unreported locally)

State Wants Open Records
By: Jim McCaffrey, The Bulletin

Tim Potts, the executive director of Democracy Rising Pennsylvania, doesn't like any of the proposed bills. He believes they are too restrictive.
"We shouldn't be looking at any of the bills in the legislature now," he declared. "We should be looking at the Open Records law they have in Nebraska. We should be looking at how open, how convenient and how cheap it is to get the information you are looking for there.
"The Mahoney bill has at least two dozen pieces of information it wants to keep secret. The Nebraska law has only about a dozen."

Net the Truth Online Warnings

See search listing

October 16, 2007 Citizen Discontent Open Records Exemptions

June 30, 2007

Open Records for PA Exempted General Assembly?

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

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

Mixed bag

Net the Truth Online
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
PA Capitol: DeWeese Co-Sponsor Freshman Open Records Bill
Looks like everybody is just getting along so well in Harrisburg...

Note: there's more than one bill

Note: there's still not going to be access to fill-in-the-blankety-blank

Note: history has a way of repeating itself

Note: whatever bill finally passes everybody will claim as they did in 2002

Note: Office so and such - wonder how many party patronage positions will open up

Note: everybody clap if you believe they'll let us see everything so easily

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that when the Publishers Association was quoted on the Open Records web site saying they no longer supported Mahoney's Bill, the Herald Standard has since quit posting the link to