Pennsylvania’s new public information access office gets first appeal

Since the new Sunshine Law in Pennsylvania went into effect on January 1, it’s inevitable that before long a Pennsylvania government agency would appeal a ruling of the newly-established Pennsylvania Office of Open Records (OOR).

A few statistics first. Since the office began work in January, over 240 requests for adjudication or complaints have been filed with the office. This suggests that the office is a much-needed service to ordinary citizens in the state trying to get their records requests filled. The compliance agency has issued 70 rulings and Norwegian Township in Schuykill County has won the contest to be the first agency to appeal an OOR ruling.

The backstory is that a resident of the township asked for salary information on the township’s three supervisors in January. They gave him some information, but refused to give him information on what government taxes were withheld on behalf of the three employees (social security taxes, etc.)

He filed an appeal of their denial with OOR. OOR agreed with him, and issued a stern ruling on all of Norwegian Township’s many deficiences in the compliance-with-the-law area.

Now, the politicians who run the township are devoting taxpayer dollars to fighting OOR’s ruling.

Is it any wonder that taxpayers are mad these days?


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