Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Request legal, valid address unnecessary for person seeking arena info through RTK law

May 15. 2014 11:50PM

By - jlynott@civitasmedia.com

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Whoever is asking for information about the operations of the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza is going to get it as the authority that owns and operates the facility intends to comply with a Right to Know Request.

Duplicate forms were submitted Wednesday at the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority’s meeting by people who said they were unfamiliar with the person requesting the most recent profit-and-loss statement for the arena.

That’s not unusual, but it’s legal, said Terry Mutchler, executive director of the Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records.

The law also allows for anonymous filings, she said, adding one need not include a valid address as might be the case with the arena requests. The only restriction placed upon the person requesting the information is that he or she be a legal resident of the United States.

“I’m actually impressed that the agency is going to comply,” Mutchler said.

The requests were expected after Ed Warkevicz of Lehman Township said he would ask for five years’ worth of financial information on the arena. Warkevicz said he was acting on behalf of a longtime friend and former area businessman living in Virginia who was interested in buying the arena owned by the authority and managed by a private company, SMG.

But Warkevicz did not formally make the request to Ed Harry, a member of the authority and its RTK officer.

Instead Ed Chesnovitch of Jackson Township and authority member Alex Milanes handed over what appeared to be identical forms. The handwriting even matched, Harry pointed out.

“Guys, could I ask a question I have, these are duplicates I would assume,” Harry said.

“You gave me one,” Harry said to Chesnovitch. “And you gave me one,” he said to Milanes. “Are these the same thing?”

“I don’t know what he gave you. I just forwarded a correspondence,” Milanes replied.

Chesnovitch said he was acting on behalf of a third party and did not know the person.

“You can submit that anonymously, right? Well, look at the Right to Know,” Chesnovitch said and referred a reporter to Harry.

Both forms listed David McDonnell of 449 Milwaukee Ave., Old Forge, as the person seeking the information.

Attempts to locate McDonnell were unsuccessful Wednesday and Thursday.

Harry said he would comply with the request.

“It’s amazing that they’re the ones who turned it in, they don’t know,” he said.

Warkevicz said he did not submit a request because “somebody else already did.”

He too did not know the person making the RTK. But Warkevicz indicated he would get a copy of the information from that person.

When asked how that would happen, Warkevicz responded, “Anything’s possible.”

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