Pittsburgh is the only city in Pennsylvania without a record retention policy. Here’s why that matters.

Nicholas Hartley, Pittsburgh’s City Archivist, gives a tour of the vault which holds historic city council legislation. (Photo by Kat Procyk/PublicSource)

Suppose your favorite parking spot was replaced by a bike lane—and now you must park around the block to make room for the cyclists’ right-of-way. As a resident, you may wonder how much the city of Pittsburgh paid to have that bike lane installed and how it came about. Is that information available to you?

Generally, the answer is yes. In Pennsylvania, the Right-to-Know Law gives citizens and journalists the power to request information from every level of government, be it a municipal water authority or the governor’s office. The Right-to-Know Law is based on the assumption that all government business is public information, unless that business is subject to a specific exemption. For instance, documents that contain Social Security numbers or home addresses are often blocked from being released in order to protect individuals’ privacy.

But if you file a Right-to-Know request for that bike lane spending data, there’s no guarantee you’ll get what you’re after.  Read the rest of the article here.

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