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Open Government

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NEWS
March 19, 2007 | By Porus P. Cooper
Robert Wayne Tarus just struck a big blow in court for more openness in local government. Now he wants the state Legislature to take the next logical step, and I'm rooting for him to succeed. Tarus is the trucking company manager from Pine Hill who persuaded the state Supreme Court that citizens have a right to videotape public meetings. The court said there could be reasonable curbs, but not a ban. I don't live in Pine Hill and have no immediate plans to run over to the municipal building with my JVC. But I'm thrilled, for I believe there's no such thing as too much openness in government.
NEWS
January 3, 1996 | By Nancy Petersen, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT
It might have been a year late, but Republican Karen Martynick was elected chairwoman of the Chester County Board of Commissioners at its reorganization meeting last night. "All good things come in time," said her Republican colleague, newcomer Colin Hanna, who nominated Martynick. Last year, former Commissioner Joseph Kenna decided to serve a second term as chairman, breaking a county Republican tradition. Kenna's move dismayed both Martynick and county GOP leaders. Martynick pledged a return to tradition and promised to hand over the reins to Hanna next year.
NEWS
April 25, 2013 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - When the Office of Open Records was created by Pennsylvania's landmark 2008 Right-to-Know Law, there was no precedent for how an independent agency would handle citizen appeals for government documents. There weren't even a logo or office furniture. Now, five years and more than 6,000 cases after the appointment of its first director, the office confronts new challenges: handling nearly double the caseload from when its doors opened in 2009, and dueling with government agencies that keep finding reasons to turn down citizens' requests.
NEWS
July 28, 2009 | By TERRY MUTCHLER
ALL'S NOT well at Pennsylvania's new Office of Open Records. As its first executive director, that's a difficult truth to face, so I'm asking open-government advocates and other citizens for their help. We're at a crossroads, and it's only fair that citizens have an accurate and honest picture of what's happening with this part of their government. Pennsylvania rewrote its archaic right-to-know law to create an independent office to resolve records disputes. As of Jan. 1, all records of the government were presumed to be open.
NEWS
May 12, 2013
Some Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to prohibit the executive director of the state Office of Open Records from speaking publicly about active cases - essentially gagging an office designed to promote open government. A bill being considered in Harrisburg would undermine crucial provisions of the state's open-records law and have a chilling effect on transparency. The attempt to muzzle the office's director, Terry Mutchler, is particularly outrageous and out of line with other agencies.
NEWS
January 6, 1987
After Watergate, the news media seemed to have lost their desire to be watchdogs of government, losing the courage to challenge the contradictions of the Reagan administration. The Iran-contra revelations have changed that. Since 1980, a lack of competition in the national spotlight, a timid Congress and the almost total absence of public criticism had allowed the Reagan administration to draw a cloak of secrecy about its inner workings. The Lebanese magazine that revealed the Iran arms deal caused the cloak to be lifted slightly.
NEWS
August 26, 2009 | By Cary Coglianese
After the nation endured eight years of an administration with a reputation for excessive secrecy, promoting open government must have seemed like a political slam dunk to our new, basketball-loving president. As a candidate and as president, Barack Obama has promised to bring so much openness to the federal government that one might have expected Washington to be as transparent as a fishbowl. But instead of restoring public confidence in government, Obama's rhetoric on transparency seems to have raised unrealistic expectations.
NEWS
January 26, 1998 | By Jen Gomez, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT
Protests from a vocal proponent of open government here have delayed enacting a plan that would have required residents to pay a fee and wait from one to five days to obtain copies of public records. Tuesday night, the Board of Supervisors considered a resolution to establish a public-records policy. It was tabled, 4-1, with Supervisors Chairman Leigh P. Narducci dissenting, after resident Maria Olshansky complained that she had not been allowed to review the measure. Olshansky said John Crawford, Whitpain's assistant township manager and finance director, had denied her a copy of the resolution before the meeting.
NEWS
September 30, 1992 | By Wanda Motley, INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU
For the sake of public awareness and open government, Democratic House Speaker Robert W. O'Donnell of Philadelphia has embraced the glare of the cameras. O'Donnell said yesterday that the public television affiliate here, WITF- TV, would have "unlimited access" to videotape all House floor proceedings and that its footage could be used by commercial TV stations. They have only to ask. But just how open government will be could turn on this question: Will the cameras be allowed to focus on the huge electronic boards where the votes of legislators are registered?
NEWS
August 15, 2002
Showing an admirable willingness to listen and adjust, Gov. McGreevey has stepped back from an order that would have hidden thousands of government documents from public view. In July, Mr. McGreevey issued an executive order undercutting the state's day-old, open-records law by making 583 exemptions in the name of homeland security. Information absurdly lumped into precautions against terrorism included charter-school applications, farmland-preservation proposals, endangered-species maps, and requests to rent a famed concert hall in Trenton.
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NEWS
October 22, 2014 | BY DAVID GAMBACORTA, Daily News Staff Writer gambacd@phillynews.com, 215-854-5994
T HE CITY shells out a pretty penny every year to settle lawsuits based on allegations of police misconduct. MuckRock.com, which bills itself as a "collaborative news site" that helps journalists, researchers and citizens analyze and share government documents, posted an online report yesterday that looked at how Philadelphia's annual payouts stack up against those in a handful of other large cities. The findings might not surprise you. The city has shelled out more than $40 million to settle 584 of the 1,223 police-misconduct lawsuits - think wrongful-shooting deaths, excessive force or illegal searches - filed since January 2009, the website reported.
NEWS
June 27, 2013
Mayor Nutter campaigned on a promise of government transparency, convincing voters that he was the guy with nothing to hide. But in the aftermath of the deadly collapse of a four-story building at 22d and Market Streets, he has denied access to public documents that may help us understand the tragedy and prevent a recurrence. The city, for example, is sitting on Sean Benschop's successful five-page application to do city-financed demolition work. Benschop is the excavator operator who was charged with manslaughter in connection with the June 5 collapse.
NEWS
May 12, 2013
Some Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to prohibit the executive director of the state Office of Open Records from speaking publicly about active cases - essentially gagging an office designed to promote open government. A bill being considered in Harrisburg would undermine crucial provisions of the state's open-records law and have a chilling effect on transparency. The attempt to muzzle the office's director, Terry Mutchler, is particularly outrageous and out of line with other agencies.
NEWS
April 25, 2013 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - When the Office of Open Records was created by Pennsylvania's landmark 2008 Right-to-Know Law, there was no precedent for how an independent agency would handle citizen appeals for government documents. There weren't even a logo or office furniture. Now, five years and more than 6,000 cases after the appointment of its first director, the office confronts new challenges: handling nearly double the caseload from when its doors opened in 2009, and dueling with government agencies that keep finding reasons to turn down citizens' requests.
NEWS
August 8, 2011 | By Sari Heidenreich, Inquirer Staff Writer
HARRISBURG - A Northeastern Pennsylvania woman wants to restore her dog's reputation. A man wants to ferret out corruption in his borough south of Pittsburgh. What do they have in common? A recent court case makes it harder for them to look at government records. In June, Debra Krysicki of White Haven, Pa., asked for a state record that would show who had filed a complaint about her 2-year-old boxer, Fritzie. The Department of Agriculture denied her request. When she appealed, the state Office of Open Records dismissed her appeal outright.
NEWS
August 13, 2010
By Leonard Boasberg I'm a liberal. You got a problem with that? A lot of liberals do. The Republicans have managed so well to demonize the word that many liberals prefer to call themselves progressives. Liberal. Progressive. What's the difference? "When I use a word," said Humpty-Dumpty in rather a scornful tone, "it means exactly what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less. " What is a liberal? We liberals believe in the open mind and the open society. We believe in fair play, civil liberties, and due process of law. We believe in open government, and the constitutional arrangement of three coequal branches of government, and we are highly suspicious of concentrated power in any of them.
NEWS
August 7, 2010
It's tough to stand out as a stubbornly backward government in South Jersey, what with the Delaware River Port Authority constantly raising the bar. But darned if Gloucester County didn't find a way. The county freeholders have proven themselves so incapable of obeying the state's open-meetings law that they require a babysitter. State Superior Court Judge Francis J. Orlando Jr. recently imposed six months of independent monitoring on the board to make sure it breaks its habit of doing the public's business in private.
NEWS
August 26, 2009 | By Cary Coglianese
After the nation endured eight years of an administration with a reputation for excessive secrecy, promoting open government must have seemed like a political slam dunk to our new, basketball-loving president. As a candidate and as president, Barack Obama has promised to bring so much openness to the federal government that one might have expected Washington to be as transparent as a fishbowl. But instead of restoring public confidence in government, Obama's rhetoric on transparency seems to have raised unrealistic expectations.
NEWS
July 28, 2009 | By TERRY MUTCHLER
ALL'S NOT well at Pennsylvania's new Office of Open Records. As its first executive director, that's a difficult truth to face, so I'm asking open-government advocates and other citizens for their help. We're at a crossroads, and it's only fair that citizens have an accurate and honest picture of what's happening with this part of their government. Pennsylvania rewrote its archaic right-to-know law to create an independent office to resolve records disputes. As of Jan. 1, all records of the government were presumed to be open.
NEWS
March 17, 2009 | By Michael Berry
This is National Sunshine Week, dedicated to celebrating the importance of open government and freedom of information. Sadly, though, here in the Philadelphia region, the forecast calls for clouds and closed government. The Inquirer's "Heard in the Hall" feature recently included a stunning headline: "Council members hold private meeting to discuss public process. " It reported that Philadelphia's City Council had met in secret to discuss whether to hold public budget meetings in the city's neighborhoods.
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