Tube City Almanac

June 18, 2010

A Brief Editorial

Category: Commentary/Editorial || By

It's difficult for me to maintain my sense of sunny optimism about the bright, cheerful future of the McKeesport area when we keep shooting each other.

Meantime, Pleasant Hills Mayor Warren Bourgeois has rebuffed Tube City Almanac's request for the name of the driver who caused last Friday's crash on Route 51.

The Almanac was instead this morning emailed a copy of the borough's Right-to-Know Act policy and told to submit the request in writing on a state Open Records Act form.

The email, from borough police Lt. Rick Kelly, was copied to borough Solicitor Fred Jug Jr.

The policy I was sent says --- under "crash reports" --- that "request(s) may be refused whenever there are criminal charges pending against any person involved in the crash."

But I'm just asking for the name of the driver --- not a copy of the investigative report.

In 15 years of covering local and state police, I have never before been asked to submit a formal "Right to Know" request for something as simple as the name of a driver involved in a traffic accident. I don't want to say it never happens, but it's pretty darned rare.

In effect, someone is stalling. But why? If you're a Pleasant Hills resident, you ought to be demanding answers.

If you're a Crawford Village resident, you ought to be demanding answers, too, but I'm not sure from whom.

Pleasant Hills Police wrote:

Subject: Right-To-Know request
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010
From: Pleasant Hills Police
To: jtogyer, Warren Bourgeois, Fred Jug

Please see attached for Right-To-Know request for information. - Lt. Rick Kelly


Police Reports
Public records are open for inspection and copying, limited to exceptions:
  • The record is exempt under Section 708 of the Right-To-Know Act

  • The record is protected by a privilege

  • The record is exempt under federal or state law or judicial order or decree

A request for a record under the Right-To-Know Law must be made in writing, on the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records Right-To-Know Request form which is available on their web site: or may be obtained at the Pleasant Hills Police Dept. The request shall identify or describe the records sought with sufficient specificity to enable to ascertain which records are being requested.

If a copy of the record is released a fee of $ .25 (twenty-five cents) per page will be charged for any record over three (3) pages, or for the cost for specialized reproduction and postage.

Property Loss Copies of portions of reports that contain information concerning stolen or damaged property may be obtained by the victim or insurance company to assist victims in recovering damages or insurance claims.

District Attorney Reports will be made available to the District Attorney's office. The District Attorney may also authorize the release of police reports.

District Magisterial Justice Copies of police reports will be made available to the Magisterial District Court for judicial proceedings.

Crash Reports Copies of reportable crash reports will be furnished to any person involved in the crash, their attorney or insurer, the Federal Government, Commonwealth agencies, agencies of other states, branches of the military, and to officials of political subdivisions for a fee of $10 (ten dollars).

Request may be refused whenever there are criminal charges pending against any person involved in the crash unless PA Rules of Criminal Procedure require production of the documents.

Jason Togyer wrote:
Subject: Re: Right-To-Know request
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010
From: Jason Togyer
To: Pleasant Hills Police
CC: Warren Bourgeois, Fred Jug, Bonnijean Adams

Dear Lt. Kelly:

Thank you for your prompt response.

I rarely have reason to cover Pleasant Hills Borough, being focused mostly on McKeesport.

But as a reporter with more than 15 years' experience dealing with local and state police, however, I can never remember being asked to file an Open Records Act request for something as simple as the name of the operator of a vehicle involved in a traffic accident.

This seems like an unusual amount of red tape.

I will, however, submit the request in writing today, and I trust the information will then be made available to myself and to all members of the news media.

Very truly yours,
Jason Togyer
Executive Director
Tube City Community Media

c.c.: Pleasant Hills Mayor Warren Bourgeois
Fred Jug Jr., solicitor, Borough of Pleasant Hills
Bonnijean Cooney Adams, editor, McKeesport Daily News

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Your Comments are Welcome!

Yes, thank you to the shooters who have completely screwed years of work at changing the view of this city and of Crawford Village.
Adam - June 18, 2010

Jason, that does sound suspicious. The last invocation of the Right to Know Act was when the PG had to file against Mayor Brewster to get documentation on the Police Overtime Scandal. Was that issue ever resolved? The last I heard was that Zappala’s office was still investigating.

Adam, I am glad to see your increased activity in the city, especially the Grandview area.

After 8 or 9 homicides last year and the present rash of violent crime in the city, not just Crawford, our reputation is the last thing we need to worry about. We need a definite plan of action, with many prongs, to make our City safe once more.


Paul Shelly - June 18, 2010


This just in:

Just three short years ago, I coached the younger of the two suspects. In 8th grade, he was a great kid who never gave me any trouble. It is a sad state of affairs when, if in fact he is guilty, a young man, scratch that, a boy, can go so wrong in three short years.

I pray for the souls of the departed and all of our youth who tread a dangerous line in Mckeesport.

There are more than a few citizens who are starting efforts to reach out to our youth and guide them in a better direction. I will keep you posted on any developments regarding outreach and things citizens can do to help.

Paul Shelly - June 18, 2010

- January 11, 2015

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