In the end, the Secretary of Transportation did show up to talk about bridge safety data. The official, Allen D. Biehler, said that although his department had a legal basis to keep the bridge information secret, he has now made a "judgment call" to release the information. He’s changed his mind. I testified afterward, and made the point that our citizens need a law that makes it clear: public information belongs to the public. One official’s judgment should not be a factor. The AP had this report:
The seeming capriciousness of PennDOT’s decision to withhold, then release the bridge safety reports was not lost on Carl Lavin, a deputy managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Lavin, who testified after Biehler, said the Philadelphia School District had refused to release a consultant’s report on student violence against teachers – until a teacher was seriously injured by a student and the Inquirer planned a story about the district’s refusal to release the report.
"Miraculously, that report became available," Lavin told legislators. "A judgment call, just as you saw today."
Biehler made no promise about when this would be available, by the way, and none of the legislators asked him for a deadline.