State Senate State Government Chairs Call for Mutchler Re-Appointment

HARRISBURG, May 2, 2014 – – Senate State Government Committee Chairs Senators Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) and Matt Smith (D-Allegheny/Washington) today sent a joint letter to Governor Tom Corbett urging him to re-appoint Terry Mutchler to a second six-year term as executive director of the Office of Open Records.

Mutchler’s term officially expired on April 24, yet she continues to serve until she is either officially re-appointed or the governor appoints a successor.

“We add our voices to the growing chorus of bipartisan support for Terry’s immediate re-appointment,” Smith said. “Her efforts have lead directly to a more open and transparent government in Pennsylvania.”

The chairmen stated that Mutchler was instrumental in shepherding a fundamental shift in the public’s right to information, “a presumption of openness” as stated on the office’s website.

“With reform efforts and changes to Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law underway in the Senate, we feel that continuation of Terry’s leadership is in the best interest of taxpayers,” Smucker said.

Since 2009, the Office of Open Records has handled over 10,000 appeals, argued many cases before state appellate courts, responded to tens of thousands of emails and phone calls from citizens, and conducted over 1,500 trainings for open records officers, government officials and attorneys.


 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is the text of a letter from Sens. Matt Smith and Lloyd Smucker to Gov. Tom Corbett delivered May 2.

Via Hand Delivery

Honorable Thomas Corbett
Governor of Pennsylvania
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17121

Dear Governor Corbett:

As the Chairmen of the Senate State Government Committee, we write to respectfully urge the re-appointment of Terry Mutchler to a second six-year term as Executive Director of the State Office of Open Records.

By every measure, Pennsylvania’s open records law has greatly increased public access to state and local government and thus improved the accountability of elected and appointed officials.

That result is attributable to a well-written law and a well-run Office of Open Records.  The choice to establish and direct that office, Terry Mutchler, has proved an inspired pick.  Her training and experience qualified her for the position; her performance has justified her selection.  She has demonstrated integrity, credibility, and respect for the letter and spirit of the law.  There is tremendous responsibility vested in the office, and she has handled it with discretion and good judgment.  While the media focus is usually on the determinations on records requests the office renders, efforts to make the law and process user-friendly for citizens are equally noteworthy.

Based on her commendable record, she has earned widespread support.  We strongly urge her re-appointment.  As you know, Director Mutchler’s term officially expired on April 24, 2014, but she will continue to serve until she is officially re-appointed or a successor is appointed.  There is nothing of which we are aware that warrants her replacement.

Her office is a part of state government that consistently maintains a firm hold on public trust and confidence.  Continuity in quality leadership should be an extremely important consideration during a time when public interest results and accountability are priority matters for taxpayers.

Thank you for your attention to this perspective.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,

Lloyd Smucker
Majority Chair
Senate State Government Committee

Matt Smith
Minority Chair|
Senate State Government Committee

cc:   Sen. Dominic Pileggi, Majority Leader
Sen. Jay Costa, Minority Leader

Contacts:

STATE SEN. LLOYD SMUCKER (R-13)
CONTACT: Matt Parido
PHONE: 717-397-1309
mparido@pasen.gov

STATE SEN. MATT SMITH (D-37)
CONTACT: Lauren Fraley
PHONE: 412-571-2169
MOBILE: 724-747-0692
lfraley@pasenate.com