To illustrate the problems Pennsylvania’s journalists and citizens face in obtaining public records, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, together with its open records reform blog, passopenrecords.org, is holding the first-ever PA Open Records Challenge.
In the competition that begins in mid-August, participants will be asked to attempt to obtain a document, such as a school superintendent’s contract or the amount of legal fees spent by their town in 2006, using an open records request.
“Many Pennsylvanians aren’t sure how to file an open records request with their local or state government. Too often, they only find out how difficult the process is when they badly need information, and unfortunately, there’s a steep learning curve,” said Tim Williams, president of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. “We hope that the PA Open Records Challenge will draw attention to the process while making citizens aware of just how critically our state needs to reform its open records law.”
Winners will be selected from the completed, correct entries submitted to the challenge, which ends October 5. Grand Prize Winners (2) will receive a one-year subscription to their local newspaper. Ten (10) additional winners will receive Pennsylvania Newspaper Association First Amendment boxes.
Participants are asked to share their stories about their requests for information on the blog. For a contest worksheet and to view the contest rules, visit www.passopenrecords.org.
“Reforming Pennsylvania’s antiquated open records law has been in the works for years but historically many public officials resisted meaningful change,” said Jamie Blaine, editor of passopenrecords.org. “But voters have put lawmakers on notice that they want a more transparent and accountable government.”
Much more here.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
How Much Fun Is THIS?????
The folks in Pennsylvania just keep getting better at this FOI stuff! Now they have cooked up a contest....