Office of Open Records finds midstate city acted in bad faith

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Apr 13, 2018 5:32 AM

public domain, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places

(Harrisburg) -- The state office that oversees appeals for access to public records has determined a midstate city has been acting in bad faith.

"This is the first time that the Office of Open Records formally found that an agency was operating in bad faith," said Executive Director Erik Arneson. 

Since January 2017, Reading has asked for an extension to respond to right-to-know requests 11 times, then never provided the records.

Attorneys in the Office of Open Records noticed the pattern during a review of a recent appeal for records of City Hall's camera and fire alarm system.

Arneson says they decided to include the finding of bad faith against Reading in granting the appeal.

"The Office of Open Records can't fine agencies, but what this does is it sends a red flag up for any judge who might review this case or similar cases in the future," he said.

The person who filed the most recent request could use this determination to file an enforcement action in court, and possibly have the city pay a fine.

Arneson say he hopes other agencies will use the case as an opportunity to review their own practices.

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