Chambersburg agrees to release former mayor's deleted Facebook posts

Written by Amber South/The Chambersburg Public Opinion | Sep 13, 2017 2:02 PM

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke

In this May 16, 2012 photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia.

(Chambersburg) -- The borough will not fight an order that it release deleted posts published on the then-mayor's Facebook page. 

The borough had 30 days to appeal the decision issued last month by the state's Office of Open Records regarding a citizen's denied request that now-former Mayor Darren Brown's deleted Facebook posts and Facebook Messenger messages be released. 

Chambersburg Borough Manager Jeff Stonehill told Public Opinion on Tuesday that borough council decided Monday night to take no action. As the last meeting before this Friday's deadline, it was the last opportunity for action. 

"Chambersburg always attempts to comply with the Pennsylvania Right to Know Act and while I cannot discuss the particulars of this case, I do not believe Council would act in any way to discourage government transparency or citizen engagement," Stonehill said in an email. 

He added that there is a transparency page on the borough's website, and that the borough "has always been (an) advocate for public information sharing."

The right-to-know request stemmed from a June discussion over a proposed mural project at the Chambersburg Rail-Trail. Noel Purdy, an organizer of the project, made an open records request to the borough June 7 for copies of posts and associated comments Brown made about the project on a Facebook page that he used in association with his duties as mayor. 

The borough denied Purdy's request, so she appealed the open records office. 

The ruling, issued Aug. 16, directed the borough to release the deleted Facebook posts and Brown's Facebook Messenger messages linked to his public figure Facebook page.

In handing down the ruling, the open records office said it is immaterial whether or not the borough has oversight over the Facebook page or authorized Brown to maintain such an account.

Brown has since resigned from the post of mayor, in order to enter the Air Force. 

On Monday night, borough council appointed Walt Bietsch as mayor

Bietsch won both the Republican and Democratic primaries for mayor in the May primaries. He will face Democratic write-in candidate Eugene Rideout in the November election. 

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and Public Opinion Online.

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