Tuesday, November 18, 2014
NorCo Records Denial Appealed
The C3 Group, a Scranton-area based cost consulting company, is the company that made the recommendations to reduce health care coverage. Its employees sat in in several meetings with employees to discuss these changes. In response to questions at one meeting to explain the changes, C3 employee Colin Healey told a worker, "Nobody subpoenaed you to work here."
Because it stretches credulity to suggest that no emails are discoverable, I have also asked for an in camera review.
Among the county's more goofy arguments is the claim that these emails are part of labor negotiations. That's just silly. This request concerns a reduction in the health care coverage imposed unilaterally by the Executive. Labor relations necessarily require the participation of management and labor. This never occurred. There have been no negotiations, collective bargaining or arbitration concerning these health plan reductions. This is why the health plan changes have been so unpopular. It was a decision made in a communication vacuum, with no transparency or willingness to talk with the very people being adversely affected. The public has a right to know what Brown and his consultants were saying behind closed doors, and the invocation of the labor relations exception here is pure nonsense.. The RTKL is "designed to promote access to official government information in order to prohibit secrets, scrutinize the actions of public officials and make public officials accountable for their actions.” Bowling v. Office of Open Records, 990 A.2d 813, 824 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2010), aff’d 75 A.3d 453 (Pa. 2013).
Under the County's interpretation, the Right-to-Know Law might as well be called the Right-Not-to-Know Law.
I could go on, from point to point, and I did in my legal argument. But I will spare you.
Had the county denied half or even 3/4 of the emails, I probably would walk away. But denying them all is throwing the gauntlet at transparency.
I am informed that a similar RTK request filed by the Controller has received the same short shrift.