The most common argument is that these Right to Know requests are “harassing.” Without addressing the negligence of the Township Supervisors in refusing to obey judicial orders, this unpleasant word is being thrown around by a number of uniformed individuals, who don’t know the basics of PA Right to Know law:
The law states that an agency cannot limit the number of records which may be requested or made available for inspection or duplication. However, citizens should use good judgment in seeking records from the public body and not use this law to harass or overburden a public body from performing its job. Also, Section 506 of the RTKL allows an agency to deny repeated requests for the same records by the same requester.
On those legal standards, these Right to Know requests are not “harassing”, they are lawful. What is “harassing” is the people coming out of the dark corners of Gregg Township to blindly take the side of the supervisors. It’s a “lynch mob” of a number of individuals, who rarely participate in local politics, but somehow joined the hate group to bully, ostracize and torment Michelle Grove.
This is harassing: Click here to see video.
Further it confounds me how so many people have jumped on the band wagon claiming that the township supervisors are being “harassed.” The absurdity of this assertion is baffling, and crosses party lines:
- Trump-turds: You SCREAM for transparency with regards to the Coney investigation and release of Hillary Clinton’s email.
- Demo-craps: You scream for transparency regarding the Mueller investigation and release of emails pertaining to the alleged Russian collusion.
In both cases, the public party frustration over a lack of transparency is audibly LOUD.
Yet in this case in Gregg Township, the collusion, lack of transparency is somehow chalked up to the Michelle Grove being a “serial right to know requestor.” Laughable. The township supervisor like to claim that they spent thousands of dollars responding to right to know requests, and this claim is patently FALSE and PURPOSEFULLY misleading. It is meant to inspire anger and direct the public focus from where it should be: On the illicit and shady handling of township records. The township supposedly spent thousands of dollars fighting in appeals courts to hide right to know requests they REFUSED to comply with, and then went on to DEFY judicial orders compelling them to release those same documents.
The battle lines have been drawn, and any one in the pocket of Gregg Township Supervisors, i.e. their most ardent supporters have now made this uncivil and nasty bullying somehow socially acceptable. It seems that as elected township leaders have engaged in bullying behavior, they have set the tone. The frustration in arguing with some these people is palpable in Michelle Grove’s most recent responses: “I don’t even want to argue with you.” She is exhausted not by the political dissent, but by the shameless barrage of personal attacks.
Out of county activists drove miles to join her when they were made aware of the personal attacks, instrumented by both sitting public officials and by her fellow constituents. John Debartola pleaded and attempted to reason with the lynch mob, and they presumed to then go after him personally, “Go back to Johnstown.”
Government corruption is everyone’s business, and so is bullying. Why hide those records? Why spend the thousands and thousands of dollars on fighting in appeals courts instead of turning over the information? Why distort the facts and say the thousands were spent due to “voluminous requests.” Then I heard something really astounding!! I heard that the solicitor was CHARGING for every email he was COPIED on. Well must be nice! I would like to charge for every email I’m copied on. This is clearly mismanagement of taxpayer money.
Recently, and most mysteriously, the township supervisors’ secretary resigned. She cited that responding to right to know requests was so difficult it was beginning to impact her personal life. Ironically, the resignation followed judicial orders (which the township brazenly defied/ignored) Ordering the supervisors to release records pertaining to her time clock and internet browsing history. Clearly none of these items are threats to national security or protected by any law on the books. If there was a mismanagement of personnel/staff, then that is a mistake that the township supervisors need to own up to. Instead, they bury these mistakes attempting to hide the records, and yet again blame the Groves for her resignation. My instinct is that she was lying about her hours, and the security cameras, time sheets and actual hours of work performed by the secretary contain massive discrepancies that were long overlooked. And that this secretary, who was excessively rude to the Groves in the You Tube videos, did not spend her time responding to right to know requests, but instead spent it surfing the internet (which is why Gregg Township is REFUSING to turn over the internet browsing histories).
The idea that employee time clocks, internet browsing history, security camera footage and pay roll is “top secret” information worthy of thousands of dollars in appeal is laughable.
But that seems to be par for the course. Gregg Township Supervisors would like to blame the Groves for all of their mistakes, and they want to rally their closest supporters behind them with pitchforks and torches. Either way you slice it, the right to know debaucle in Gregg Township has been handled excessively poorly by the sitting leadership, and if I lived in Gregg Township, I would certainly be rallying people behind me to replace every member of that sitting board. Board members that told Michelle she “could not” record PUBLIC meetings on her cell phone, (violation of the sunshine act). And sitting supervisors that demanded Michelle sit in the back of the room like Rosa Parks had to sit on the back of the bus.
And on that note, I am very happy to see Kerry Benninghoff involved.