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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How to Abuse a Good Law

Pennsylvania's relatively new Right-to-Know Law has opened the doors to what has too often been a closed government. Not only does the law create a presumption that all government records are public, but it establishes a statewide Office of Open Records for speedy appeals by those who think they've been unfairly denied access. This new law has undeniably been useful to reporters and bloggers interested in casting a public spotlight on what is happening. But at least one citizen is using it as a tool to harass smaller governments. The law provides no remedy for vindictive requests.

Local governments may feel annoyed, but there have been relatively few appeals in Northampton County (14), Lehigh County (23), Allentown (38), Bethlehem (34) and Easton (10).

But tiny West Easton Borough, whose 2010 census was just 1,257 people, has handled 40 open records appeals, more than Allentown.

Reason? Tricia Mezzacappa. The Gladys Kravitz of West Easton, she has filed 39 Right-to-Know appeals under her own name. She filed another as "Concerned Citizens of West Easton," using her mother's address.

You could say this must mean that West Easton is a closed government that likes to operate in secret. But if that were so, wouldn't there be other appeals by other people?

Mezzacappa has won just four of these appeals.

When a small government like that is tied up with so many appeals, it is hard to imagine it has time for anything else, including government.

According to Mezzacappa herself, she was ejected from Monday night's West Easton Borough Council meeting by Easton police. "And dragged she was...physically abused, and accused of drinking in public (laugh), and threatened with a disorderly conduct charge, [and] tossed out of the meeting by Officer Siegfried of EPD."

In a mass email to West Easton Borough Solicitor Christine Schlottman, Mezzacappa warns, "Congratulations, you have successfully added more fuel to the fire. I will now be returning to each and every meeting, camera ready, and will be recording, as you stand by and allow my government through you, to violate my constitutional rights. I have known many lawyers who will do anything for a buck, but you take the cake. What a disgrace."

In a letter to The Express Times, in which she basically defends the Ross Township massacre by a crazed gunman angry at Township officials, Mezzacappa hints at her own situation. "West Easton seems to mirror the exact predicament of Newell in Ross Township. I thank the Lord that I have had the patience to continue putting up with this tyranny."

It is nuts like Mezzacappa that give nuts like me a bad name. Her abuse of the Right-to-Know Law is just what state legislators need to close those doors shut.

90 comments:

Anonymous said...

People say we're judged by the company we keep , but we won't hold that against poor Earl
FREE EARL !
FREE EARL !

Anonymous said...

Inadvertent approval by the legislature to legally shut down a government entity.

Anonymous said...

Asswipe, try, just try, for once in your repugnant life, to print the entire excerpt, not just bits and pieces.


"I hardly appreciate your capricious and insulting drum go ejection of my presence from the podium last night for doing nothing wrong but opposing an unconstitutional tax on people receiving medical care. . It was wholly humiliating after being abused by a cop, accused of being drunk and threatened with criminal charges. Congratulations, you have successfully added more fuel to the fire. I will now be returning to each and every meeting, camera ready, and will be recording, as you stand by and allow my government through you, to violate my constitutional rights. I have known many lawyers who will do anything for a buck, but you take the cake. What a disgrace. "

Lets guess who sent it your way...this wont be hard

Anonymous said...

Gladys Kravitz! The nosy neighbor from Bewitched? Great analogy

Kevin Cerino said...

There was a time when a Borough Council candidate being thrown out of a meeting would have made the news. That would have been back when the newspapers sent reporters to municipal meetings. It is a sad state of affairs.

Anonymous said...

Leave your old girlfriend alone. she belongs to Jim Gregory now.

Anonymous said...

Does she wear her penis substitute (gun) on her hip while she does her lunatic routine at the mic?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Kevin,

I believe this will make the papers.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Lets guess who sent it your way...this wont be hard"

You can guess ... and be wrong, as you seem to be about most everything.

Henry Mitchell said...

Gladys Kravitz was a lady who did not have an Adam's apple. Bernie you owe her an apology.

Anonymous said...

Puhleeeez! How long will we have to continue seeing this repugnant photo when we come to your blog for local news? My appetite is gone, the impulse toward lunch is a mere memory.

Anonymous said...

After 3xs being redirected to the reason for the public hearing she became more quarrelsome would not stop yelling that everything she had to say did have something to do with it. She needed to leave. The little Boro deals with a lot from her.

Anonymous said...

“We’ve known Rocky Newell for many, many years, and he’s made many, many threats,” Martin said. “Rocky’s always been that way. Rocky’s always one who believed in his property and believed in his ideals and told everyone the government was out to get him. This thing has brewed for many years, and I believe it escalated to the point where he took matters in his own hands.”

“Unfortunately there were innocent victims, but I was an innocent victim myself 23 years ago,” Newell told the paper. “That’s what started all this.”

“They should have just laid the hell off. That property was all I had.”

Rocky & Tricia sound eerily identical.

Anonymous said...

What is so fascinating about the inner workings of West Easton government that Tricia Mezzacappa would file so many information requests and 40 appeals? It doesn't make sense. This seems to be a case of a vindictive person with no meaning to her life and way too much time on her hands. If not for her gun festish, it would be almost comical.

Kevin Cerino said...

If it does make the papers, it will only be be because of this blog and The Blog Which Shall Not Be Named. This incident happened two days ago and neither the Express-Times nor the Morning Call have published anything on it.

I understand why. Newspapers simply don't have the resources which they did in the past.

Anonymous said...

@2:14PM Vindictive person, that sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

"I just got to stop them from doing it to anyone else, and I’m going to take care of it so they’re not around to do it to anybody else, ”

"Rockne Newell replied, “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

"He said his department had a long history with the suspect, adding that Newell could be volatile — outraged one moment, calm the next."

"when its number one concerned citizen, gave an outstanding tongue lashing to Borough employees as her patience with these scofflaws, hit an all time low."

"and requires the police to escort one member of the public in to the building, because they passed a policy banning her from Borough Hall. Normal people who fear for their lives would keep the alleged terrorist away from them, and simply use email to deal with requests for minutes. Not West Easton. They prefer to bring an alleged dangerous taxpayer, who they all fear, directly into Borough Hall, to face off for a provoked argument, as they do so well. ....escorted by police because she is too dangerous to come and go freely."

Tricia is a menace to society! As long as she posesses a firearm, Weast Easton's Elected official's will never be safe. Tricia is a Preventable Tragedy, in the making.

The Goon Squadron. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Neither, she shoots and squirts.

Anonymous said...

It would seem that she craves attention. Don't these constant posts about her play into that?

Anonymous said...

The Pennsylvania police chief who shot off his mouth and a machine gun in profanity-laced pro-gun videos lost his job Thursday night.

The Gilberton Borough Council voted to fire Mark Kessler, who'd already been suspended.

A few members of Kessler's "Constitution Security Force," a pro-gun group, showed up to support Kessler on Thursday, openly carrying assault-style weapons and handguns, NBC Philadelphia reported. Some got into an argument with an opponent.

Now that Mark & his commrade's are unemployed, they can advocate for Tricia's election outside the Boro Hall in West Easton. Something wicked this way comes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

They do, but they are still necessary. You can't bury your head in the sand and hope the evil goes away .

Anonymous said...

Tricia, as W.E. #1 concerned tax-payer, forces the Boro to spend thousand's of tax-dollar's & harassed/badgered the E.P.D. into refusing future coverage of the Boro. How is she improving the quality of life in West Easton??? The "peasant's or pis'ants" should run her out of towne @ the end of a pitch-fork & torch mob, as in the days of olde.

Anonymous said...

"The state of New York will begin treating most alleged prostitutes as victims rather than criminals, and seek to steer them toward medical treatment, job training and other social services to break the cycle of sex trafficking."

Tricia should move to New York so she may end her Victimization. Norco does not have the resources/program's to adequately address it's resident's needs. ie. Jim Gregory & Tricia Mezzacappa.

However, Tricia wouldn't have to move if NORCO authorized a comparable Program @ the Courthouse under Title 42 § 916. Problem-solving courts.

(a) Establishment.--The court of common pleas of a judicial district and the Municipal Court of Philadelphia may establish, from available funds, one or more problem-solving courts which have specialized jurisdiction, including, but not limited to, drug courts, mental health courts and driving under the influence courts, whereby defendants are admitted to a court-supervised individualized treatment program. The court may adopt local rules for the administration of problem-solving courts and their related treatment services. The local rules may not be inconsistent with this section or any rules established by the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

On Jim Gregory's ill-fated radio show Tricia called West Easton "a goofy little Borough." Why does she want to represent a place she thinks is goofy? She also has referred to its residents as "corn fed hicks." Seriously? She lives with a pig.

Anonymous said...

Grain-fed swine, is mighty fine, to dine on. It has a wonderful flavor and texture. It is difficult to find in this area. ‘sooee' !

Anonymous said...

Tricia has Pro Se filing status that expires after 1 year. If, at any time her financial situation change's, she must Inform the Court, so she may pay the fee's owed on her previous filing's. As a responsible tax-payer whom is also seeking Public Office, Tricia should lead-by-example & reimburse the tax-payer's.

Tricia spends more tax-dollar's than any other resident of Norco. She should at least make a campain pledge to repay them. If she own's a home, then she must have income. Show me the money!

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I hope you are not defending Kelly Gross, who should have been removed from office just for wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars instead of just providing government records that are public.

Anonymous said...

"who should have been removed from office just for wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars instead of just providing government records that are public."

Tricia is unable to accept the word "NO". Now, she threaten's to become hyper-vigilant (obsession) with Borough Proceeding's. She shoult NOT be allowed to bring any device's into Borough Hall, as they may be used to conceal contraband.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Kelly Gross saved thousands with her volunteer work when the borough manager suddenly died of a heart attack. That poor woman was constantly abused by Mezzacappa prior to her untimely death. Mezzacappa also abused another borough employee, who finally left. She has been a plague on that tiny borough and its residents. The number of RTK appeals is just obscene. She threatened to kill Gross. She harassed another worker. She has two criminal convictions. She is responsible for Easton's decision not to extend police coverage. She is the reason why Wilson won't go there. I know who is costing that borough money, and it is not Gross.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie , Just her flaunting in an "OPEN CARRY" in public is disturbing, and embarrassing to serious firearms handlers. THIS ACTION DRAWS FLY'S . The intent I'm sure was not to make criminal acts from constitutional rights. But,In her case, she has pushed this issue to a negative reaction by the general public also. I say, If she keeps up a contemptuous display up , she will also get arrested and be in the pokey by next year.

Anonymous said...

"U.S. v. Eleven Vehicles, 966 F.Supp. 361 (E.D.Pa. 1997)
Court finds that ghostwriting by attorney for a pro se litigant implicates an attorney's duty of candor to the court, interferes with the court's ability to supervise the litigation, and misrepresents the litigant's right to more liberal construction as a pro se litigant."

Affidavit in Support of the Application
I am a plaintiff or petitioner in this case and declare
that I am unable to pay the costs of these proceedings
and that I am entitled to the relief requested. I declare
under penalty of perjury that the information below is
true and understand that a false statement may result
in a dismissal of my claims.
Signed:

Anonymous said...

If the Court were informed of Tricia's factual financial situation, she would lose her Pro Se status. As a Political candidate, doesn't she have to file a Financial Statement? Are the number's congruent with one another?

Clinton Oxford said...

"She threatened to kill Gross"

Dear Mr O'Hare,

If I understand the situation correctly....Ms. Gross is re-Victimized, every time Ms. Mezzacappa contact's her. Can Ms. Gross file for a P.F.A. against Ms. Mezzacappa, Or is a Restraining Order required? Tricia employs Jim Gregory's tactic's. Parse the Similarities!

Bernie O'Hare said...

She has no legal basis for a PFA or restraining order. Mezzacappa was prosecuted and convicted after her death threat. Grodd also has a basis for suing Mezzacappa in libel for statements Mezzacappa publishes that she knows are untrue.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Pro se simply means she is representing herself. She still has to pay all fees.

Clinton Oxford said...

"Mezzacappa was prosecuted and convicted after her death threat. "

YES! Ms. Gross should seek a protective order.

Title 18 § 4954. Protective orders.
Any court with jurisdiction over any criminal matter may,
after a hearing and in its discretion, upon substantial
evidence, which may include hearsay or the declaration of the
prosecutor that a witness or victim has been intimidated or is
reasonably likely to be intimidated, issue protective orders,
including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) An order that a defendant not violate any provision
of this subchapter or section 2709 (relating to harassment)
or 2709.1 (relating to stalking).
(2) An order that a person other than the defendant,
including, but not limited to, a subpoenaed witness, not
violate any provision of this subchapter.
(3) An order that any person described in paragraph (1)
or (2) maintain a prescribed geographic distance from any
specified witness or victim.
(4) An order that any person described in paragraph (1)
or (2) have no communication whatsoever with any specified
witness or victim, except through an attorney under such
reasonable restrictions as the court may impose.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's interesting. Under this statute, of which I was admittedly unaware, there are several possibilities.

Alan Dershowitz said...

My client does not appreciate these malicious blog postings Bernard, when you mess with a bull you get the "horns" (metaphorically). Mezzacappa will ramp up her campaign of resistance to the tyranny put forth by the Gross family cartel, specifically by seizing the pink gavel in the upcoming November election.

Jim "Jesus" Gregory has been tapped as her campaign manager and as we all know he is a savvy political savant has deep connections stemming from the Unity PAC. All the haters on this blog will be subpoenaed in Mezzacappa's forthcoming libel action against LVR and LehighValleylive, Tom Shortell will probably shit himself when he gets the news that Alan Dershowitz is on the case.


Bernie O'Hare said...

I know I'm jumping off a bridge. I'm terrified.

Clinton Oxford said...

@ 10:04PM

I am a jailhouse lawyer seeking legitimate civilian para-legal employment, with on the job training.

Bucks Barrister said...

Alan, you are a washed up hack not worthy of representing Norco's own Edward C Larson for anything other than a traffic ticket. If you continue to masquerade as Mezzacappa's attorney we will take your ass to court and see that your are held accountable for these false claims.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bucks barrister, She needs a real lawyer, not you. Go back to pretending you're an election law expert.

Anonymous said...

"Court finds that ghostwriting by attorney for a pro se litigant implicates an attorney's duty of candor to the court" "

"If you continue to masquerade as Mezzacappa's attorney we will take your ass to court "

The Duty of Candor



By Aaron S. BayerContactAll Articles


The National Law Journal

December 1, 2008


Every attorney has an ethical duty of candor to the court. Appellate counsel are obliged to inform the court of any development that may implicate the court's jurisdiction and to disclose authority directly adverse to the arguments the attorney is presenting.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that Mezzacappa showed up at the Borough council meeting on Monday looking disheveled and with a visibly red complexion. There were at least a dozen witnesses present. The police officer who escorted her out of the meeting said he smelled alcohol on her breath. Tricia, didn't the voters already have enough reasons to reject you on election day?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think she'll be giving reasons right up to election day.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

I delete all references to that person as a result of an agreement in court that I honor.

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Anonymous said...

"Jim "Jesus" Gregory has been tapped ..."

by now that's probably more true than you know. at this point, it may well be like throwing a hotdog down a hallway.

Kevin Cerino said...

While it is apparent that she is abusing the RTK law, she does make one allegation which actually makes sense (if it is true). She is complaining that the borough is requiring her to submit a formal RTK request of copies of Borough Council minutes. Although following the letter of the law, this would seem to be an unreasonable action by the borough.

Matthew A. Dees said...

While it is apparent that she is abusing the RTK law, she does make one allegation which actually makes sense (if it is true). She is complaining that the borough is requiring her to submit a formal RTK request of copies of Borough Council minutes. Although following the letter of the law, this would seem to be an unreasonable action by the borough.

Regrettably, the delay in obtaining approved minutes (which by law become automatically approved 30 days after the meeting, whether or not approved by Council) is a fact for all residents of West Easton. A RTKL request must be submitted and after 5 days allotted to respond to the request residents are informed that the 30 days to provide those minutes will be applied. This results in a total of 65 days to see the minutes from a council meeting.

It's a situation that I encountered, don't agree with, and have suggested at a previous public meeting to rectify with a community bulletin board. These are, after all, approved minutes and there should be no need for a legal review, redactions, or other scrutiny that would require additional days to distribute a hard copy.

In the near future I plan on presenting the Mayor and Council an outdoor bulletin board for use in posting minutes and other pertinent information (zoning meetings, legal notifications, etc.) for the public to view if they don't install one themselves. Though West Easton might still take the 65 days to provide a hard copy, there should be no reason not to post approved minutes behind locked glass after 30 days.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Matt, I agree that perfunctory requests like minutes should be provided immediately, once the minutes have been approved. (Until then, they are not records). I see nothing wrong with requiring all informational requests to be documented, but there is no reason why anyone should wait more than 5 days for minutes.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
In response to the Dees comment 10:09AM –

FIRST, he didn’t just ask for minutes he asked for many items on his RTK request form. SECOND, he came to the window demanding these docs immediately w/o a request form from the office staff who are not the RTK Officer. THIRD, Kelly has been asking for the bulletin board for many, many months and she may have had a conversation with ideas with Dees. Apparently, Dees hasn’t been by the Boro since his RTK request because the community bulletin board is in the ground!

Thank you,
Tom Nodoline, West Easton Councilman

Anonymous said...

"there is no reason why anyone should wait more than 5 days for minutes."

The RTK Law permits an extension of time beyond 5 days, if a municipality has genuine "staffing limitations." In West Easton, there is no paid Borough manager, an expense which would cost the taxpayers $50,000 or more in salary and benefits annually. The office runs with two parttime clerks. Recently one of those clerks resigned because of TM's abuse. In fact, TM was convicted of criminally harassing this clerk before the clerk left.

This was the same clerk who witnessed TM's profanity-filled tirade last year at the Borough Hall that resulted in TM being convicted of disorderly conduct.

While the intent of the law is wonderful, its implementation in the real world can be problematic for a small government office confronted with an abusive requester like TM.

Cerino and Dees have a right to their opinions. However, they haven't walked in the shoes of those doing their best to follow the "letter of the law" under difficult circumstances.

By difficult circumstances I mean hundreds of records requests and 40 appeals to a state agency. Many of TM's appeals involve an unwillingness on her part to pay the copying fees ($.25 a page) permitted by the law.

Apparently, TM needs that extra money to fund her frivolous litigation, buy beer and purchase more ammunition for her beloved firearms.

An Informed Source

Kevin Cerino said...

To An Informed Source,

I don't dispute that many if not most of Ms. Mezzacappa's RTK requests are frivolous. But minutes to monthly council meetings are something pretty basic that residents and taxpayers should have access to in a timely manner. In this day and age it isn't that difficult to email a document like council minutes to someone who requests it. Doing so would mean one less visit from the town nut, something I think that borough employees would welcome.

Anonymous said...

Cerino, you have your opinion but you do not have a clue when it comes to TM and the Borough of West Easton.

- A Longtime West Easton Resident

F. You Bailey said...

No decent lawyer has ever crawled from the river banks of Bucks County. Marine mammals are notorious assholes who should get their teeth fixed.

Anonymous said...

"In this day and age it isn't that difficult to email a document like council minutes to someone who requests it. Doing so would mean one less visit from the town nut, something I think that borough employees would welcome."

Mezzacappa will always find a pretense to visit or call the Borough Hall to cause trouble. Why does she choose to pay in person rather than putting a check in the mail? She loves confrontation and attention, even negative attention. Emailing her the minutes is not going to solve the problem because...SHE IS THE PROBLEM.

Anonymous said...

If Tricia win's her Election, The Borough Hall will have to allow her unfettered access within it.

Anonymous said...

Thats doubtful. She's a villain like her "blog mental"

Bernie O'Hare said...

A few weeks ago, I wanted minutes from a Bangor Boro meeting, I made a RTK request, and was told I had to wait until another clerk, the RTK officer, was back from her vacation. When she returned the next weeks, she got me the minutes. I had no problem with that. I would have had a problem if I was 30-dayed on a perfunctory request like that.

We all know it is easier to email. But most borough government staff do not have the technology. For them, mailing or in person is easier. That's fine with me.

Anonymous said...

"If Tricia win's her Election, The Borough Hall will have to allow her unfettered access within it."

Tricia will be elected when pigs fly.

Bernie O'Hare said...

O think they could still keep her out of the building, before and after meetings in the unlikely event she were to win. She is unquestionably a security threat

Anonymous said...

The more you know, The more you realize how much you don't know, The less you know, The more you think you know...

Ritu Ghatourey

Anonymous said...

"I would have had a problem if I was 30-dayed on a perfunctory request like that."

I understand your point, Bernie, but there are differences between municipalities. Does Bangor have a paid Borough manager? How large is Bangor's office staff and how many Right to Know requests do they receive? I'm assuming Bangor has not had hundreds of records requests and 40 appeals to contend with. I'm also assuming Bangor's staff has not been subjected to behavior that rises to the level of disorderly conduct and criminal harassment. Further, I'm assuming that Bangor's staff doesn't have to concern itself with anyone as extreme as West Easton's gun-toting menace.

Anonymous said...

From the website of the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, Frequently Asked Questions:

"Can a public body limit the number of requests that a citizen can make? [Section1308(1)].

No. The law states that a state or local agency cannot limit “the number of records which may be requested or made available for inspection or duplication.” However, citizens should use good judgment in seeking records from the public body and not use this law to harass or overburden a public body from performing its job. Also, a public body can deny repeated requests for the same records by the same requester. [Section 506]"

Bernie O'Hare said...

Unfortunately, the law does not direct citizens to exercise good judgment or warn against using the law to harass. if it did,West Easton could seek protective action.

Matthew A. Dees said...

FIRST, he didn’t just ask for minutes he asked for many items on his RTK request form. SECOND, he came to the window demanding these docs immediately w/o a request form from the office staff who are not the RTK Officer. THIRD, Kelly has been asking for the bulletin board for many, many months and she may have had a conversation with ideas with Dees. Apparently, Dees hasn’t been by the Boro since his RTK request because the community bulletin board is in the ground!

Thank you,
Tom Nodoline, West Easton Councilman


Tom,

You apparently took my comment as a personal affront.

In fact, when I asked for the minutes of a few past meetings those many months ago, that RTKL request was made after I was told my initial verbal request for blank permits required by the borough had to be submitted through an RTK. I simply added the minutes request to the same RTK submission. The permits, by the way, are those that any person might need in order to meet West Easton ordinances, such as a business permit, or building permit.

The truth, we both know, is that I didn't demand anything "immediately." Jill Garcia told me she was alone that day and asked if it would be a problem for me to come back later. I responded that I understood and she could take all the time she needed and that she could call me when they were ready. She then called you and I was then told I would be required to submit the RTKL request by Kelly, when you failed to meet me at an agreed upon time at Borough Hall. This, after you offered to gather up the blank permits because obsolete ones might be given to me by mistake, according to you. 5 days later I received a letter from the solicitor stating it would take 30 days more to receive the documentation.

Now, I am understanding in that if one person is required to submit an RTKL request then all should be and I can't receive any special treatment, but the fact remains that submitting RTKL's for approved minutes, or blank permits, and then having to wait an additional 35 days does little to promote transparency in local government and though lawful, it's unnecessary for such items. Oddly, when it came to my paying for a business license in the borough, that blank I received immediately in order for the borough to receive it's $20 fee.

And exactly how long has the bulletin board been in the ground? My last conversation with Kelly a few weeks ago showed no progress in moving forward with a bulletin board because she wasn't getting any support from the rest of the council. I mentioned to her then that I would pay for it and install it myself, if need be. I never had a follow-up call regarding any change in that status.

Since it is now installed, I will visit it this evening and hope to see approved minutes of a previous meeting hanging there.

Next time, when Kelly finally gets your collective asses in gear t get something done that is long overdue, don't be afraid to give her credit. I will.

Matt

Porcine protector said...

Mezzacappa will bring down LVR, Otter will ensure O'Hate go from living in a filthy hovel to bunking with junkies at Safe Harbor

Anonymous said...

Minutes should be posted on a website. No one should have to make a RTK request for minutes. A basic website is not expensive and would save the staff a lot of time and trouble.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I certainly agree that minutes, agendas, ordinances, email addresses and a borough calendar should all be available on a web page. If this is too much to do, and in a small boro it might be too much, then I respectfully suggest that the borough should seriously consider merging with another municipality. That might provide for better services and lower taxes to the citizens who live there.

Matthew A. Dees said...

Tom,

Next time, don't try to make an ass out of me by making it sound like that bulletin board has been up for any length of time.

The dirt from the post holes is fresh, the cement has barely set, and nothing is posted on it.

Until you get a locking cover you won't be able to post an official document without it disappearing.

But, I'll write about the strides made and hope it is used to post minutes in the future. In the meantime, I've posted pictures of the bulletin board that I neglected to see all this time, so that everyone else can see how long it's been up and how it appears currently.

http://westeastonpa.com/west-easton-gets-an-outdoor-bulletin-board/

Bernie O'Hare said...

Matt, I think you and Tom are on the same side. I must add you really were impressive in front of Judge Yetter a few months ago. You missed your calling.

Matthew A. Dees said...

Bernie,

Just a disagreement of opinion, but never any animosity or hard feelings toward Tom, or anyone else on Council. I'll have a beer with Tom this weekend, if he's not sore by then.

I'm for transparency in government, especially when certain items shouldn't be held back just because the law allows them to be for an extended period. This RTKL for minutes is a pet peeve of mine. I don't even mind a record of a request being obtained. It's the length of time to receive the minutes that is troubling. By the time you receive minutes from one meeting, two other council meetings have taken place.

If I don't voice an opinion, or get involved, then I'm not doing my part as a citizen of my borough. I have a lot of respect for W.E. leadership. Some have been under attack (as you know) without any civility in argument. I can get snarky, but I don't hold a grudge.

Anonymous said...

As an outsider, I don't understand all this concern about the availability of minutes of West Easton Borough Council meetings. Local government meetings are open to the public. Show up and observe for yourself what is going on in your community. No delay. No need to wait five days (or 30 days) for someone else's account in the form of minutes. You even have the right to bring a video camera and record the entire meeting. If you really, really can't wait for the minutes, attend the meetings. Problem solved. If you don't think the Right-to-Know Law has strict enough deadlines for the release of minutes, lobby your state legislator to change the law. From personal knowledge I can report that the new law (effective in 2009) is much stricter than the law it replaced.

Bernie O'Hare said...

One can always go to a meeting, but sometimes minutes are needed as an official record of what transpired. In fact, if the minutes differ from what actually happened, the minutes prevail. I actually encountered that issue. I argued a position based on the minutes, but the recording was different. They had to go back and change the minutes.

As for the old law being superior, that has not been my experience. The downside is the waiting, especially when you need something now. There are also 37 exemptions. But the law does create a presumption that records are public, and the appeals process is an effective tool that avoids the courts.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, You misunderstood me @ 11:30 PM. I agree the new Right-to-Know Law is far superior to the old law for government transparency. One flaw, however, is that a small municipality can be inundated with requests for records and has no recourse other than invoking a 30-day extension of time. That appears to be what's happening in West Easton. A Borough of 1200 residents having to defend 40 RTKL appeals would be equivalent to the County of Northampton having to defend about 10,000 such appeals. How do you think that would go over in the halls of county government?

Bernie O'Hare said...

So we agree on that point, to be sure.

Anonymous said...


I certainly agree that minutes, agendas, ordinances, email addresses and a borough calendar should all be available on a web page. If this is too much to do, and in a small boro it might be too much, then I respectfully suggest that the borough should seriously consider merging with another municipality. That might provide for better services and lower taxes to the citizens who live there.


That's ridiculous. No, it's not too much for a small bork. Posting documents on a website is trivial and absolutely mandatory in 2013. Get your head out of your ass, whoever is making this excuse.

Anonymous said...

In the near future I plan on presenting the Mayor and Council an outdoor bulletin board for use in posting minutes and other pertinent information (zoning meetings, legal notifications, etc.) for the public to view if they don't install one themselves. Though West Easton might still take the 65 days to provide a hard copy, there should be no reason not to post approved minutes behind locked glass after 30 days.

Are you kidding me? A bulletin board? What is this Mayberry 1948?

Anonymous said...

I certainly agree that minutes, agendas, ordinances, email addresses and a borough calendar should all be available on a web page. If this is too much to do, and in a small boro it might be too much, then I respectfully suggest that the borough should seriously consider merging with another municipality. That might provide for better services and lower taxes to the citizens who live there.

Even small school districts like Catasaqua manage to post ALL minutes on their website. There is absolutely no excuse.

Anonymous said...

"There is absolutely no excuse."

Draft an Ordinance, Vote on it, Allocate Funding.

Then there is no excuse.

Matthew A. Dees said...

Are you kidding me? A bulletin board? What is this Mayberry 1948?

9:01,

Don't be too harsh about the idea. I'm not. The reason stems from the fact that most residents in West Easton are an older crowd and few within the community have the technical knowledge of how to install a website on a server, create html coding, upload documents, and a host of other issues involved in running a proper website for a community. Such tasks could be outsourced, but the borough would have to pay for that service.

Many residents I've met and talked with don't even know how to download and open a file. WestEastonPA.com is not the official borough website. It's one I created at no charge to try and bring the community into the 21st century. It's privately owned by me. Information provided is that which I can gather at council meetings when I can attend. I'd like to provide more information, but I don't have access to items I'd like to provide to the public (which was the reason for my request of blank permits and my desire for quicker release of minutes).

Though a bulletin board isn't exactly state of the art, it is a cost effective solution to disseminating information to the public. It's easy to locate and a short distance to any resident of the borough.

Anonymous said...

Ok, that would be great , but how is a bulletin board going to keep us safe from a lunatic ?
Lets get back to what we can do about that. any good ideas we can work together on ?

Anonymous said...

"Are you kidding me? A bulletin board? What is this Mayberry 1948?"

No it's Salem 1692

Anonymous said...

"any good ideas we can work together on ? "

(4) An order that any person described in paragraph (1)
or (2) have no communication whatsoever with any specified
witness or victim, except through an attorney under such
reasonable restrictions as the court may impose.

Anonymous said...

Hello ? Morganelli ?

Anonymous said...

"No it's Salem 1692

11:42 AM"

Shall we burn the witches at the stake again?

Glinda said...

Maybe just the one wicked witch from west Easton

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PHQLQ1Rc_Js