Sunday, February 03, 2008

PA Open Records: Publisher: DeWeese Press On Same Page Access

good move on the part of PA state Representative H. William DeWeese. Drop a six-year and counting vendetta libel lawsuit with a newspaper that brings only negative publicity. Who'd have thought, just around election time, too. Oh but that has nothing at all to do with anything, right.

Unappetizing fare when the publisher of the Herald-Standard goes further than OK, that's nice. He's actually falling for DeWeese's portrayal of his "conversion" to support for access to public records, more commonly known as "open records" reform - guess he's a reformer now!

Guess DeWeese's past actions and words don't matter. He's a new man with a new mission - pass open records, pass open records as soon as possible.

The lack of hard questions about the so-called open records details in the DeWeese backed-bill, originally submitted by state General Assembly freshman Rep. Timothy Mahoney, are now explained.

That bill HB 443 provided an exemption for legislative emails Tribune Review's Brad Bumsted slams in his column Shhh! More state secrets.

Bumsted informs of Babette Josephs' amendment in the article which went down to defeat with DeWeese's 'Nay' vote, meanwhile three other state legislators who represent a portion of the same county as DeWeese voted Yes. Go figure.

Rep. Babette Josephs, chairwoman of the House State Government Committee, last month offered an amendment to remove what the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association calls a "blanket exemption" for lawmakers' e-mail in House Bill 443. The Philadelphia Democrat's amendment was defeated 127-69 with seven members excused.

In our post we review the situation and pose more questions about details, details, those pesky details. Wednesday, January 30, 2008 PA Open Records Reform: Exemption Central

The PA Newspaper Publishers retracted its support for the legislation and instead put its favorable thumb on the Pileggi sponsored Senate measure (with a few tweaks).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007
PA Newspaper Publishers Retract Support for Open Records (Corruption Protection Act)

What more is there to say. It doesn't bother Laub a bit that the Mahoney bill wouldn't have applied to past records, only to those created after the new open-records legislation passed.

Open-records revision passes state Senate
by JAN MURPHY, Of The Patriot-News
Wednesday January 30, 2008, 12:03 PM

...The current draft removes a House-backed provision that would have prevented access to dates of birth. It also makes the law retroactive, covering existing as well as newly created records, another break from what the House had passed.

It took the Senate to reverse that in its measure passed unanimously last week.

We'll still have to see what the House approves. Don't look for Laub and the PA Newspaper's Association to question what this new coded language regarding the privacy of individuals really means.

good reason to hide legislative emails...

DeWeese says he wants to move on
By state Rep. Bill DeWeese
Updated 02/02/2008 08:00:38 PM EST

(Note: PA Newspaper Association created passopenrecords:)

Open records legislation deserves passage
Updated 02/02/2008 08:00:38 PM EST

Fate of open-records law may hinge on House vote
2/2/2008, 1:56 p.m. EST
The Associated Press
House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, D-Greene, and his Republican counterpart, Sam Smith of Jefferson County, said members of their caucuses were concerned the Senate bill might expose more Pennsylvanians to identity theft. Addresses and telephone numbers contained in public records would continue to be available under the bill, as they currently are, but Social Security and driver's license numbers would not.

Barry Kauffman, director of Pennsylvania Common Cause, complained that the Senate bill doesn't go far enough in opening government agencies to public scrutiny.

Herald-Standard publisher Val Laub in his own words:

Paper, DeWeese settle lawsuit
By Jennifer Harr, Herald-Standard
Updated 02/03/2008 07:37:49 AM EST
State Rep. H. William DeWeese has dropped the libel lawsuit he filed against the Herald-Standard in 2002.

According to the settlement agreement, DeWeese, D-Waynesburg, will be given space in the newspaper to write a column about the purpose of the lawsuit, and his legislative and reform efforts, both in general and specifically relating to open records laws.

The column is in today's paper on B-2, the editorial page.

Herald-Standard Publisher Val J. Laub said he is pleased that DeWeese dropped the 6-year-old lawsuit.

"It was always about open records, and I now believe DeWeese and the press are on the same page going forward to improve taxpayer access to what we define as public records," Laub said.

"Bill DeWeese has demonstrated his support of the open records legislation. I am happy to put the lawsuit behind us, and we look forward to a positive relationship with Rep. DeWeese from this point on," Laub continued...

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