From the Executive Director
Every day in Pennsylvania, citizens are denied access to records and meetings that by right they should be allowed to see. Sometimes, the government officers in charge of these decisions are properly using discretion, but that’s not always the case.
For instance, there’s the recent case of a 17-year-old killed in a car accident. The estate requested access to the full traffic report, but was denied. Why?
Imagine you are the parent of an infant who tragically died and you wanted to see the results of your baby’s autopsy, but you were denied access to those records.
Or ask yourself how — as a taxpayer in a Pennsylvania school district — you would respond to being denied access to district records of a severance package paid to a terminated public school administrator.
We just wrapped up Sunshine Week — a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
You can read our opinion piece that ran in papers and on websites around the state this past week.
The news out of Washington only reinforces our determination to make records management a PaFOIC focus this year. Even at the most sophisticated level of government – the State Department, for goodness sake – there is a lack of understanding of the principles of transparency and a critical need for record management best practices, including lots and lots of training! The PaFOIC is a positive partner to government and hopes to be a big part of the solution to poor record-keeping practices at the local, state and federal level.
Please join the PaFOIC today to support our second decade in ensuring that all people have full access to Pennsylvania state and local government records and proceedings. Such access fosters responsive, accountable government, stimulating civic involvement and building trust in government.
Don’t forget to check our calendar for training opportunities and for details on our 10th birthday party in the spring.
-Corinna Vecsey Wilson, Esq., Executive Director