Web site helps open public records
Associated Press

HARRISBURG - A new Web site has been established to help Pennsylvanians get access to public records and know what they are entitled to see.

The site is from a new nonprofit group, the Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition, which said the state has some of the weakest protections for access to government records and open meetings.

The site, www.openrecordspa.org, includes a forum for posting questions and finding answers about accessing records from local and state government.

It also features updates on open government regulations, a guide to submitting requests for public records, links to the right-to-know policies of state agencies, and the texts of Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law and Sunshine Act.

"We want to be the best source for right-to-know information and assistance in Pennsylvania," said Gayle Sproul, a Philadelphia attorney who is the group's first president.

The coalition will help citizens obtain legal representation in open-government cases of statewide significance.

Founded by journalists, librarians, attorneys, educators and community advocates, the coalition also monitors proposed state and federal laws, regulations and court decisions.

Many records that are public in other states are kept secret in Pennsylvania, including, for instance, the reasons for the firing of public-school employees and the records of cell-phone calls made on taxpayer-paid phones.