- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania court on Friday gave the attorney general’s office an extra day to prepare for a hearing next week about who should be in charge of the state Office of Open Records.

Commonwealth Court issued an order that pushed back to Wednesday a hearing on an injunction request by Erik Arneson, who was removed as the office’s executive director by Gov. Tom Wolf last week.

The court also gave the attorney general’s office, which represents Wolf, the open records office and the Department of Community and Economic Development, another day to file a written response to Arneson’s lawsuit seeking to reclaim the job.

Arneson, a longtime Senate Republican aide, was appointed by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett a week before Democrat Wolf was sworn in on Jan. 20.

Wolf has said the appointment lacked transparency and argues the director serves at the governor’s will.

The decision to fire him has drawn criticism from newspaper editorial boards, and on Friday the president of the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors group issued a statement saying Arneson should be reinstated.

“It’s a position where impartiality is paramount,” wrote Nick Falsone, also managing editor of The Express-Times of Easton. “The only acceptable allegiance should be to the citizens, who ought to be afforded unfettered access to all the tools available to hold their government accountable.”

Arneson wrote a piece on Pennlive.com on Friday that said Wolf’s “action - if it were to stand - would mark the end of the Office of Open Records as it has existed to date.”

Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan, also on Pennlive.com, said Arneson “was removed from his position because he was appointed in a manner which did not serve in the best interests of the people of Pennsylvania.”


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