Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law, first adopted in 2008, has dramatically expanded public access to government records. They are now presumed to be public. If a local government resists a request for information, it must prove that what is sought is not a public record or falls within one of the exceptions to disclosure. Governments must respond timely, too, or face sanctions from the state Office of Open Records. Although this law has increased government transparency, it is being abused by some to harass and overburden government workers under an obligation to respond. The most chronic offender here in the Lehigh Valley is none other than Constable Tricia Mezzacappa. Yes, the very same person who's been charged with false reports to the Pennsylvania State Police has done her best to bring the government of tiny West Easton to its knees with incessant requests.
Since the beginning of this year, she has slammed the small staff with 40 Right-to-Know requests.
West Easton has joined about 60 other communities and adopted a Resolution asking the state legislature to change the law to provide some way to protect it from vexatious requesters like Mezzacappa.
She's also a vexatious litigant who has been barred from filing incessant motions against West Easton (and me) without leave of court.
This resolution should be considered by Northampton County. County officials tell me that one Assistant Solicitor's time is almost exclusively spent responding to requests.
Just because you have a right to do something does not mean you should. I always resented when Lehigh Valley Live would post all the salaries of every public employees, even this paid a pittance or who work seasonally. While I get the idea of posting high salaries paid to cabinet officials or those sucking up overtime, there is little to learn from those at the lower end of the scale. It just embarrasses the worker.
To that end, Mezzacappa has sought and regularly posts the wages paid to one IU-20 bus driver. This is done mostly to harass and embarrass him after he defeated her for a seat on borough council.
West Easton's resolution is below.
t Easton RTKL Resolution by BernieOHare on Scribd