May 4, 2015 |
John Paff retreats to a small room in his chilly basement each morning and fires up his computer. Methodically, he lets fly a barrage of e-mails to pry loose confidential documents that local governments and New Jersey agencies closely guard. Disciplinary reports of rogue cops. Dashboard footage of traffic stops. Ethics violations filed against lawyers. Health benefits that part-time officials quietly give themselves. As chair of the Open Government Advocacy Project for the New Jersey Libertarian Party, Paff submits about 700 requests for documents from local governments across the state each year.
April 27, 2015 |
GREATER transparency is something every political candidate will promise to bring to the city in exchange for your sweet, delicious vote during the upcoming primary and general elections. But why wait that long for some sunlight? City Council President Darrell Clarke introduced a bill earlier this week that would reveal more information about the big money groups behind some of your favorite local pols. The proposed legislation would require nonprofit organizations, corporations, partnerships and political action committees that spend $5,000 on ads - televised, print, digital, whatever - in favor of a candidate to disclose their spending to the Board of Ethics four times in the weeks leading up to an election.
February 24, 2015 |
THE OFFICERS who lined the front of their district headquarters Saturday stood mostly stone-faced as protesters pelted insults at them: Murderers! Pigs! Racists! At one point, a black protester got within a breath's reach of a black officer's face and screamed: Sell-out! If I were a Philadelphia police officer, I'd be furious. And not at the protesters who marched to the 15th District headquarters on Levick Street, demanding answers in the December police-related shooting of Brandon Tate-Brown.
February 20, 2015 |
TANYA BROWN-Dickerson sat listening to her car radio in a Home Depot parking lot when she heard something that sent chills through her. A 26-year-old black man driving a white Dodge Charger had been shot by police during a stop. It took just a few calls to friends and family to confirm that it was her son, Brandon Tate-Brown. That was two months ago. She's since learned little else about her son's death. Yesterday, Brown learned from the Daily News that the police officers involved in the shooting were back on the streets after an internal investigation found that they did not violate departmental policies.
January 11, 2015 |
Over appeals from a bipartisan chorus of legislators and open-government groups, Gov. Corbett on Friday appointed Erik Arneson, a Republican Senate aide, as director of the state's Office of Open Records. Terry Mutchler had been serving on an interim basis since her six-year term expired in April. The Open Records Office is intended to be independent and nonpartisan, setting policies, advising government agencies on best practices, and hearing appeals when local, county, or state governments decline to provide information that requesters assert should be public.
December 5, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - Worried that Hurricane Sandy victims could be shortchanged by what a judge recently called "reprehensible gamesmanship," New Jersey Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker pressed a key federal official Wednesday to force the release of documents that they say could expose deceptive practices by some insurers. Menendez and Booker, both Democrats, met with the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, Craig Fugate, after a New York court case ended with a magistrate judge ordering documents to be released to New Yorkers who may have been misled by insurers.
April 24, 2014 |
STEVE MASON surprisingly returned to the Flyers' bench last night, less than 24 hours after completely ruling himself out of Game 3 - even as a backup. Mason stood up periodically to stretch in the tunnel leading to the Flyers' dressing room, in uniform for his first Stanley Cup playoff game since April 23, 2009. The stretching turned out to be useful. Mason was summoned from the bench for the final 7 minutes, 15 seconds last night, once the game was firmly in hand for New York.
April 21, 2014
After attempting to clear himself in the George Washington Bridge scandal with a report he commissioned, Gov. Christie has relaunched his presidential campaign. Hence his cynical declaration last week that campaign contribution limits should be scrapped. Instead of restrictions, the governor said, there should be quick and thorough disclosure. But Christie has a history of fighting disclosure. He has stonewalled public-records requests, forcing citizens to sue for information. He has used the Republican Governors Association, which he chairs, to travel the nation bolstering his presidential aspirations, while refusing to disclose what the state has spent to enable his security entourage to accompany him on out-of-state political trips.
April 6, 2014 |
Corey Sigle followed what happened last fall at Coatesville, where the athletic director and superintendent resigned because of racist text messages allegedly between the two. Sigle was dean of students and wrestling coach at neighboring Downingtown West at the time, and as he put it, with all the coverage the texting exchange received, it was hard not to follow it. "It was shocking. I guess I can say that," Sigle said. "Anytime you have those kinds of things, it's not something good that you want to see in education.
July 30, 2013 |
IT WAS JANUARY 2009, and the stars seemed to have aligned over Philadelphia, signaling what should have been a Golden Age of government transparency in our erstwhile corrupt-and-contented city. Pennsylvania's new Right-to-Know Law - with its key clause that all government records are presumed to be public - had just gone into effect. No longer must citizens prove why records should be available to the public. Under the strengthened law, government agencies must prove why not . And Philly had elected as mayor a reform-minded councilman, Michael Nutter, who was wrapping up his first year in Room 215. Open government is his thing.