Here’s Everything Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Did in the Last Two Weeks
Gov. Tom Wolf announced last month that he was going to post his full work calendar online starting in February. It sounded all good and transparent, but, we pointed out, the devil’s in the details:
Whether Wolf is truly taking a bold step won’t be known until he releases the first data set. He could redact a lot of useful information — or he could provide enough details to make every open-record advocate in the state happy. We’ll know soon enough.
Sure enough, Wolf posted his calendar dating from Jan. 21 to Feb. 6 on Monday (you can dive into it below). So should it make open-records advocates smile?
Judging from his first records release, Wolf seems to be honestly trying to shine a light on the governor’s office. His calendar entries are revealing, if not shocking. (Only phone numbers have been redacted.) The entries show that Wolf has met with city leaders, Republican lawmakers and, yes, even President Obama. On January 29th, his calendar reads: “12:00 PM-12:15 PM: Call w/ Sen. Corman” — as in the GOP Senate Majority Leader. Later in the same day, it says: “6:15 PM.-6:45 PM: Travel to Sheraton Society Hill w/ POTUS.” On February 3rd, from 2:15-2:45 p.m.: “Meeting w/ Mayor Nutter and staff re: Education.”
“For Pennsylvania, this is light years ahead,” says Terry Mutchler, former executive director of the state’s Office of Open Records. While head of OOR, which rules on appeals from citizens who have been denied access to government records, she says, “I probably saw a half-dozen to a dozen full-blown cases involving public officials refusing to release their schedules.”
His entries don’t always list every participant at an event, though. For instance, on January 21st, Mutchler trained Wolf and his cabinet members on the state’s Right-to-Know law (which open-records advocates thought was pretty cool). But his calendar doesn’t mention her. It says only: “12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Open Records Presentation; POC Katie McGinty, Denise Smyler – Reception Room.”
Jeffrey Sheridan, a spokesman for Wolf, told the York Daily Record that the calendar entries are written in order for “the governor to know where he’s supposed to be” and so they include “points of contact” and organizers of events.
That’s not perfect, but we give Wolf’s effort a solid thumbs-up. Mayor Nutter and City Council should follow Wolf’s lead and post their work calendars online, too.
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