Open records czar: Rendell is dragging his feet

Terry Mutchler runs the Pa. Office of Open Records

In the three-page letter, obtained by The Inquirer, Mutchler revealed a list of her concerns over how the administration has dealt with her and her staff - as well as individual records requests - since she was tapped to lead the open-records office in June.

According to her letter, the situation has gotten so bad that lawyers in Rendell's office have put representatives of every state agency on notice not to even take her calls. Everything has to be in writing, the lawyers insist.

"At a maximum, these examples demonstrate an anti-open-government spirit," Mutchler, a reporter turned lawyer, lamented in her letter to Rendell, written late last month.

She continued: "Some agencies . . . are using the Right-to-Know law as a shield with which to block information rather than a tool with which to open records of government."

Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo yesterday described the differences between Mutchler and the administration as "procedural and not substantive," and said the administration did not believe it had "denied anyone information that the law requires us to make public."

Still, Mutchler, a Rendell appointee, is requesting that the governor send a memorandum to all state agencies directing them to work with her office.