PA-Gov: Wolf Calls Dispute Over Open Records Director ‘A Gift’

Tom-Wolf sadIt’s doubtful anyone predicted the first fight of the Wolf Administration would be over the Open Records Director.

One of Governor Tom Corbett’s final acts in office was appointing Erik Arneson to Director of the Office of Open Records. On new Governor Tom Wolf’s second day in office, he rescinded more than two dozen eleventh-hour appointments by his predecessor, including Arneson.

“If this action is allowed to go through it will completely obliterate the independence of this office forever,” Arneson said while inside the Harrisburg office.

In what Senate Republicans have called an “attempted removal,” Arneson has vowed to continue to show up for work and serve his post.

Although Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan has not indicated that Arneson will be barred from  coming into the office, he has said that Arneson is ‘not executive director anymore.’

According to the York Daily Record, Wolf was quoted saying that the dispute was a ‘gift.’

If “we want to have a fight on this, I’m happy to go to the people, and say, ‘This is where I stand,'” Wolf said.

January 26th, 2015 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Governor, Top Stories | 17 Comments

17 thoughts on “PA-Gov: Wolf Calls Dispute Over Open Records Director ‘A Gift’”

  1. Seth SKversky says:

    How is Arneson stating, “If this action is allowed to go through it will completely obliterate the independence of this office forever,” when in fact he was appointed by a sitting Governor to his position. Can a then new Governor not resend the action of his predecessor? How is that ruining the “independence” of anything, if anything it is showing the action of good governance.

  2. JEFF WHITE says:

    good job gov wolf never ever ever cave to these people or you will end up being a one termer like your predecessor

  3. bobguzzardi says:

    Venesky v. Ridge: http://www.leagle.com/decision/20021651789A2d862_11567

    In 2000, Governor Tom Ridge fired George Venesky from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, an independent administrative agency, to whom he was appointed pursuant to the Pennsylvania Game and Wildlife Code to an eight-year term. In 2002, Commonwealth Court upheld the firing. The Pa. Constitution overrides an Act of the General Assembly.

  4. One voter says:

    I’m taking Wolf-ie at his word, i.e., compare an 11th hour Corbett appointment vs. a nationwide search for someone who will implement the best practices in the industry. Who comes out on top of that situation? Not a partisan aide.

    Wolf & Co have the high road here, all they do is ask what do the entrenched Republicans have to fear from open records?

  5. bobguzzardi says:

    The Republicans increased majorities in both state House and state Senate.

  6. bobguzzardi says:

    The contest is between Senate Republican Majority Leader Corman and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. Unlike Tom Corbett, Sen. Corman is competent and knows what he is doing. In the power play between Sen. Corman and Gov. Wolf, I think competence wins and, in terms of political maneuvering, Sen. Corman is a master.

    Erik Arneson was not Tom Corbett’s appointment, it was Jake Corman’s and Tom Corbett, once again, screwed it up. This should have and could have been simple. The Senate Majority leader’s political competence will, very likely, outmaneuver Tom Wolf’s petty power play. Erik Arneson is but a cipher but he is Sen. Corman’s cipher.

  7. Isaac L. says:

    Wow, Independent – time to pull those knuckles off the ground and join those of us who walk upright. Bigotry went out of style a long time ago. Clearly you have internet access in that cave, so there’s really no excuse.

  8. Tom says:

    The audacity of CORBETT to appoint politicals hacks like Arneson to Governor ‘s appointed positions in literally the last hours of his administration was completely wrong. Governor Wolf won the election and it will be his call who holds these positions. This is just another proof that CORBETT never understood the political process . Corbett never lost the prosecutor mentality. Trying to force legislation even in his own party. That is why Corbett’s Administration had such a dismal record and he was a one term Governor. The last hour appointments prove he never did get it.

  9. bobguzzardi says:

    Of course, the incompetent Tom Corbett could have avoided much of this had he not waited until the last minute to make these appointment. Incompetence is not an asset.

  10. bobguzzardi says:

    Challenging the Senate Republican leadership over a personnel appointment was unwise and unnecessary. Governor Wolf has antagonized the opposition at a very personal level.

    Erik Arneson is a product of the Senate Republicans and, colloquially, referred to as a “hack”. However, just because he is a political hack does not mean he is unqualified or incompetent to perform the job. In fact, his past experience in the mechanics of government may make him highly qualified, if suspect. The Senate Republicans were the main proponents of the Open Record Office itself and Erik Arneson was instrumentally effective in passing this law. It was not a Democratic initiative or priority as the Pennsylvania news media well know.
    But then, Erick Arneson’s predecessor, the Democratic Terry Mutchler, was a skilled political player herself, politically connected to the Liberal Democrats, and Democratic Terri Mutchler, herself, did make some suspect decisions favoring unions herself. There is no evidence that Erik Arneson would not perform well or any worse than the Democrat. This is a power play and one that I think the Governor will lose. It is unlikely he will dislodge Erik Arneson but the bigger contest is whether Governor can over power, the Senate leadership.

    It is very important for political leadership to be able to reward loyal and skilled operatives in order for leadership to attract talent and to maintain leadership’s power. Challenging the Erik Arneson appointment is an affront to that leadership power and its ability to reward its own people.

    Senator Corman may not pursue what I think are wrong policies, but one has to be acknowledge that he is not stupid nor incompetent nor weak. Based on limited observation, Senator Corman seems to have that slick charm of experienced and successful politicians and is a highly skilled in practical, real world politics in ways that the intellectual and academic Governor is not. Senator Corman dislodged the crafty and powerful Senator Pileggi from Senate leadership demonstrating Senator Corman’s organizational and political skills. Senator Corman will now have to prove he deserves the power he was given by his colleagues.

    The intellectual academic versus the “pol”…I think the pol wins and that may be for the best.

  11. Tim Potts says:

    The idea that Eric Arneson is independent is laughable. From those who were in the room, I gather that the only priority he had with the open records law was to make sure the legislature could keep as much information as possible secret. This is not a qualification for running the open records office. We need someone who is independent of all three branches, someone like the person Terry Mutchler recommended.

  12. Raging Liberal says:

    His/her? Mentally ill? “For the children!!!11” Sounds like “Independent” needs to get a grip on life in the 21st century, where being LGBT is no longer classified as a psychiatric disorder. And no child is going to be harmed by a transgender parent much less a Physicisn General. Finally, “Independent” should really look into the term “misgendering”. It’s cruel and unseemly.

  13. kelly says:

    Let’s level-set. Did Wolf win? Or did Corbett massively lose? YET, Nationwide, Republicans enjoyed historic wins.. Here, history will write that Corbett lost: mired in PSU and #JoePaterno muck. the legend that Corbett cut state education funding, and the Republican-blocked PLCB and Lottery privatization,

  14. Sup says:

    Independent=Drew “Bonus Baby” Crompton.

  15. John says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if Tea Party Tom Corbett’s far-right minions would treat the HISTORIC loss handed them last November like an indication that rightwing extremism and corporate corruption of government is no longer a choice for PA?

  16. Independent says:

    1) This is amateur hour. No inexperience at governing. In view of the way the Dem Chairmanship race was handled, my guess is Katie McGinty gave him this bad advice. Hey Katie and Guv, marching around and glad handing people is CAMPAIGNING……..it is not a substitute for GOVERNING. You saw how Senate leadership ousted their own, wait until your cabinet nominees come to Committee……….where they will stay for a long time.
    2) The incompetence of the Corbett administration is the gift that keeps on giving. If he had made these appointments when they were in fact open, rather than waiting to the last weekday of his term, there would have been no controversy. The Senate would have been confirmed and the commissions would have been signed by Corbett. The Arneson position would have been filled and done. Corbett’s hands-off method of governing is once again causing problems. The ONLY, I repeat the ONLY, Republican governor not to be re-elected. We again see why.
    3) MESSAGE TO THE SENATE: Please God, do not confirm the transgender (confused) Physician General nominee, Levine. This is not the role model we want for the Commonwealth’s children. His/(now a her?) extremist, liberal philosophy will trickle down through every bureaucratic action. His/her confirmation will mainstream, condone and encourage her/his mentally ill actions.
    Will someone please yell, STOP! Once and for all, we need to STOP this bankrupt morality. Don’t worry about the fallout. It is not hateful to disapprove her. Don’t let the left define our community’s morality.

  17. Steve says:

    Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. Who is advising this guy? Not a fight worth fighting. Not with his whole Cabinet coming before the Republican Senate for confirmation. This will not be pretty.

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