Philly Mayor Kenney deleted years’ worth of text messages, report | Monday Morning Coffee

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

So here’s a reminder that text messages are, in fact, public records.

The Inquirer reports this morning that ‘old-school’ Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has spent years deleting text messages from his personal cell phone, apparently unaware that he was deleting important public records of his mayoralty in the doing of it.

More from The Inky:

“The mayor, who has long eschewed a city-issued cell phone in favor of his personal cell phone, “wasn’t aware that he needed to retain texts on his personal device,” according to his spokesperson, Deana Gamble. “He habitually deletes items on his phone to clear space.”

“Habit or not, the move may violate state open records laws. Any communication — electronic or paper — as it relates to city business is subject to the state’s Right-to-Know Law and considered a public record. And those records are intended to be preserved to help citizens see and understand how public officials govern and tax dollars are spent.

“Alex Abdo, an open records expert and advocate, called the mayor’s deletion of text messages “extremely troubling.”

“That’s three years’ worth of Philadelphia history gone,” said Abdo, a senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute.

“Daniel Bevarly, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, said public officials are increasingly using private cell phones as a way to circumvent open records laws. “The use of private phones, it’s just something to get around open government laws,” he said in an interview Friday. “They will say, ‘Well, I didn’t know.’ Well, they need to be better trained in open records laws.”

Our Stuff:

With Pittsburgh considering a gun-ban, staff reporters Elizabeth Hardison and Stephen Caruso take an in-depth look at what’s holding up progress in other municipalities. Namely, the fear of being sued.

Hardison chronicles the city of Harrisburg’s efforts to clamp down on the illegal gun trade.

Veteran activist Eric Epstein wonders why the taxpayers are again being called upon to fund a bail-out for Three Mile Island.

Caruso homes in some new ads in the special Senate election in western Pennsylvania’s 37th District.

Elsewhere:
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney spent two years deleting texts from his cell phone – apparently unaware he was destroying public recordsThe Inquirer reports.

The parents of the late Penn State student Timothy Piazza have spoken out against ‘ritualized drinking’ on college campusesThe Post-Gazette reports.

Drexel University-made smartphone app is trying to cut down on overdose deathsBillyPenn reports.

The Post-Gazette has the story about that ‘Shame on the Blocks‘ poster that prompted that incident by its publisher, The Incline reports.

The Morning Call goes around the horn on some political headlines from the past week you may have missed.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day.

WHYY-FM on the ‘uncertainty’ shadowing the debate over nuclear power in Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed legislation aimed at attracting younger farmers into agriculturePennLive reports (via WITF-FM).

The threat of frequent government shutdowns have prompted state and local governments to impose their own safeguardsStateline.org reports.

So people are upset that Cory Booker is a vegan? Really? Politico has the story.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a question about citizenship will remain on your Census formRoll Call reports.

What Goes On.
State government has the Presidents Day holiday off. Standard business resumes Tuesday.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an old favorite from Cornershop to get the working week rolling.

Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
The Penguins got past the Rangers 6-5 on Sunday, putting them back into the into the playoff hunt. Sidney Crosby had three assists on the way to the win.

And now you’re up to date.

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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