Article for Pennsylvania County News

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania recently asked me to contribute an article to the Fall 2019 issue of Pennsylvania County News, which I was happy to do.

Here’s the complete text of that article.

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Balancing the public’s right to know with confidentiality laws and privacy interests

Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) presumes that all government records are available to the public – but it also recognizes that there are times records must be shielded to comply with confidentiality laws, to respect various privileges, and to protect legitimate privacy interests.

In our training sessions, the Office of Open Records (OOR) often points out that the RTKL is not itself a confidentiality law. In other words, the RTKL does not require agencies to withhold any records. Instead, it allows agencies to withhold records when certain conditions apply. (For example, records can be withheld if their disclosure would endanger public safety, reveal police notes about an investigation, or identify an individual receiving social services.)

But there are laws which require confidentiality, and those laws must be followed.
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Speaking to Students at the University of Pittsburgh

Late yesterday, I visited the University of Pittsburgh to speak to Prof. Doug Swanson’s journalism class about Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law.

It was a great discussion, and I appreciate the invitation very much.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation I used:

University of Pittsburgh – Prof. Doug Swanson – Oct. 22, 2019 (PPTX)
University of Pittsburgh – Prof. Doug Swanson – Oct. 22, 2019 (PDF)

If you’re a professor in Pennsylvania and you’d like me to speak to your class, let me know and I’ll do my best to make it happen.

Speaking to Students at Lock Haven University

Earlier today, I visited Lock Haven University to speak to Dr. Sharon Stringer’s journalism class about Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law.

It was a great discussion, and I appreciate the invitation very much.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation I used:

Lock Haven University – Dr. Sharon Stringer – Oct. 22, 2019 (PPTX)
Lock Haven University – Dr. Sharon Stringer – Oct. 22, 2019 (PDF)

If you’re a professor in Pennsylvania and you’d like me to speak to your class, let me know and I’ll do my best to make it happen.

Speaking to Students at Marywood University

Earlier today, I visited Marywood University to speak to the Wood Word staff about Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law.

It was a great discussion, and I appreciate the invitation by Dr. Lindsey Wotanis very much.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation I used:

Marywood University – Wood Word / Dr. Lindsey Wotanis – Oct. 18, 2019 (PPTX)
Marywood University – Wood Word / Dr. Lindsey Wotanis – Oct. 18, 2019 (PDF)

If you’re a professor in Pennsylvania and you’d like me to speak to your class, let me know and I’ll do my best to make it happen.

Presentation at the Tyrone Daily Herald

Earlier this afternoon at the office of the Tyrone Daily Herald, I led a training session about Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law.

Many thanks to the Daily Herald for allowing me to visit. I appreciate it very much.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation I used:

Tyrone Daily Herald – Oct. 17, 2019 (PPTX)
Tyrone Daily Herald – Oct. 17, 2019 (PDF)

If you’re interested in training about the Right-to-Know Law and/or the Sunshine Act (for agencies or requesters), please let us know.

Presentation to the Pennsylvania Library Association

Yesterday in Erie, I spoke to members of the Pennsylvania Library Association about Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law.

Many thanks to PaLA for the invitation. I very much appreciate it and loved having the chance to speak to librarians. When my family lived in Christiana, PA, in the 1980s, the wonderful Moores Memorial Library was right down the street from my house. (The library has since moved to downtown Christiana.) Today, my wife and I are regular users of the Cumberland County Library System.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation I used:

Pennsylvania Library Association – Oct. 13, 2019 (PPTX)
Pennsylvania Library Association – Oct. 13, 2019 (PDF)

If you’re interested in training about the Right-to-Know Law and/or the Sunshine Act (for agencies or requesters), please let us know.