Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Open Records Request Goes to State Supreme Court

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case seeking to make cell phone records from former Pittsburgh City Council members Len Bodack and Barbara Burns public. A Tribune Review reporter asked for the publicly paid cell phone records of all council members in 2003. Some complied but Len Bodack and Barbara Burns did not. The city argued that the numbers that would be on those records were private and should not be published. The argument is that the publishing of those numbers could have a chilling effect on a citizen want to make contact with a lawmaker. The city used the example of a constituent complaining to a council member about a crack house. When the house is raided those arrested could find out who the councilman was talking to and bring harm to that individual. Lawyers for the paper say the council members had the opportunity to redact any sensitive numbers but would not be able to make a good argument before the court to keep calls to country clubs and travel agencies out of the public eye. Both Burns and Bodack have since been voted out of office.

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