Erik Arneson

Ted S. Warren / AP

The City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are appealing a decision from Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records, which on Jan. 24 ordered them to release their proposal to become Amazon’s second headquarters, or HQ2. 

Elaine Thompson / AP

Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records ordered the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County on Wednesday to release the region’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, or HQ2, ruling that the document belongs in the public domain.

Right-To-Know Revisions Await Lawmakers

Jan 16, 2016

Legislation is waiting in the wings to update the state’s Right-to-Know law, overhauled in 2008 to make government records more accessible.

The eight-year-old re-write corrected laws once considered among the worst in the nation and flung open the filing cabinets of some state and local government and let the public in – to sometimes overwhelming effect.

What’s the single largest category of people filing record requests?

Gov. Tom Wolf is vowing to appeal a court ruling reversing his dismissal of the director of the state’s Office of Open Records, the latest counter-punch in a months-long legal dispute over the independence of the agency and the powers of the governor.

The Commonwealth Court ruling reinstates Erik Arneson to his post as executive director of the agency. It also awards him back-pay.

Mary Wilson / WITF

The dispute over Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to fire the state’s Open Records director is in the hands of a state court.

A Commonwealth Court panel will consider whether Wolf had the power to dismiss Erik Arneson, appointed by former Gov. Tom Corbett.

Wolf’s lawyers say the Open Records director is an at-will employee of the governor’s administration.

But Matt Haverstick, a lawyer for Arneson, says the law creating the office clearly intends to insulate it from the whims of the governor.

Court Panel to Hear Open Records Director Dispute

Feb 4, 2015

The case over whether Gov. Tom Wolf can remove the head of the Office of Open Records will go before a panel of seven Commonwealth Court judges next month.

Both sides of the dispute struck a deal after a hearing Wednesday. Senate GOP lawyers arguing on behalf of Erik Arneson, the fired Office of Open Records director, said they would withdraw their request that he be immediately restored to the director’s post. In exchange, the Office of Attorney General, arguing for the Wolf administration, said that Arneson could not participate in any Open Records business.

Senate Panel Tunes Out Wolf’s Recall

Jan 28, 2015

The squabble between state Senate Republicans and Governor Tom Wolf is ramping up. A Senate committee on Tuesday brushed aside Wolf’s recall of 28 nominations made by his predecessor.

Instead, the panel approved 13 of the 28 nominations made by former Governor Corbett in the twilight of his term, queuing up the names for a confirmation vote in the full Senate.

Senate GOP spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said the same committee would eventually take up the remaining 15 Corbett nominations.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday he would void 28 last-minute nominations made by his Republican predecessor, Gov. Tom Corbett, as well as the "midnight appointment" of Erik Arneson as director of the state's Office of Open Records.

Arneson, a former top aide in the state Senate GOP, was selected to run the OOR less than two weeks before Wolf's inauguration.

Wolf criticized the appointment at the time.

Erik Arneson will become the new executive director of the Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records Gov. Tom Corbett announced Friday.

Arneson will replace Terry Mutcher, the office’s first director who is stepping down to join the law firm Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia where she will head a government transparency practice.

In 2006, Arneson joined the staff of Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R- Delaware County) as communications and policy director. There, he helped develop the Right-to-Know Law and the office of Office of Open Records.