Pennsylvania’s Right To Know law still has some bugs to be worked out.
The law, Act 3 of 2008, took effect Jan. 1, 2009, and was much-needed improvement over the existing Sunshine Act.
But then who could have guessed the implicit conflict between the right to protect the privacy of public school teachers and the right to know where dog owners lived?
Yesterday, Delaware County Daily Times columnist Gil Spencer described how Lauren Marks wanted to know where dog owners lived in four zip codes in Delaware County. Ms. Marks runs a pet-sitting service and was looking for potential customers. Businesses have long used lists of registered voters, taxpayers and real estate transfers for similar things.
Ms. Marks made requests in Montgomery and Chester counties without issue.
Delco, however, felt uncomfortable about releasing the information. County Clerk and Open Records Officer Anne Coogan checked with Solicitor Frank Catania, who recommended the request be denied citing a recent court injunction barring the release of the home addresses of public school employees.
Ms. Marks appealed and the state directed Delco to release the information — after removing the names of the public school employees.
This is a ridiculous and an almost impossible demand, especially since Spencer says state Open Records Officer Executive Director Terry Mutchler has expanded the rule to prohibit the release of the addresses of every public employee in the state.
Spencer says Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi (R-9) is preparing a fix.
And may people wake up to the understanding that transparency is much better than hiding behind a false sense of privacy.