Speaking to the County Commissioners Association

Yesterday in Hershey, I spoke to members of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania at their Newly Elected Officials Workshop & Fall Conference.

Not surprisingly, I focused on Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law. More specifically, I encouraged counties (the same would apply to other agencies) to post their most commonly requested records online. For example:

We also discussed effective ways to use social media and how the RTKL applies to social media, as well as some common-sense ways to reduce the burden of the RTKL on agency employees.

Many thanks to CCAP for the invitation. I appreciate the chance to speak to county commissioners from across Pennsylvania.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation I used:

County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania – Nov. 25, 2019 (PPTX)
County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania – Nov. 25, 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.

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 the County Commissioners Association

This morning in Hershey, I spoke to members of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania about the Right-to-Know Law and the Sunshine Act as part of the organization’s Newly Elected Officials Workshop and Fall Conference.

It was a great event, and I enjoyed talking to so many county commissioners. As a reporter at the Lebanon Daily News in the mid-1990s, I often covered meetings of the Lebanon County commissioners. I have great respect for the work done at the county level in Pennsylvania.

Here’s the presentation I used as part of this morning’s speech:

County Commissioners Association – 23 Nov 2015 (PDF)
County Commissioners Association – 23 Nov 2015 (PPTX)