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LENNOX L. MOAK AND BERNARD B. EISS v. PHILADELPHIA NEWSPAPERS (04/30/75)

decided: April 30, 1975.

LENNOX L. MOAK AND BERNARD B. EISS, APPELLANTS,
v.
PHILADELPHIA NEWSPAPERS, INC. AND AARON EPSTEIN, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. and Aaron Epstein v. Lennox Moak, Director of Finance, and Bernard B. Eiss, Accounting Manager, Office of Director of Finance, No. 2018 March Term, 1974.

COUNSEL

John M. McNally, Jr., First Deputy City Solicitor, with him Martin Weinberg, City Solicitor, for appellants.

David H. Marion, with him Samuel E. Klein, and Harold E. Kohn, P.A., for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 600]

On March 11, 1974, after eighteen months of investigation, the Pennsylvania Crime Commission issued a report alleging ongoing, widespread and systematic corruption of all levels of the Philadelphia Police Department. The report made specific reference to about 400 members of Philadelphia's police force as having been involved in corrupt and improper conduct,*fn1 identifying these persons only by rank, first name, last initial and badge or payroll number. On March 12, 1974, Aaron

[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 601]

Epstein, City Hall Bureau Chief for The Philadelphia Inquirer, made formal demand upon Bernard B. Eiss, the accounting manager of the city's Department of Finance, for access to the payroll records of the Philadelphia Police Department. These records contain each Police Department employee's full name, class and department, payroll number, sex, date of birth, annual salary and various other personnel data. The demand was refused.

Epstein and his employer, Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc., which owns the Inquirer, the appellees here, filed their complaint in equity seeking an order requiring the appellants, Bernard B. Eiss and Lennox L. Moak, the city's Finance Director, to provide access to the payroll records. The appellees claimed an absolute right of inspection under the "Right to Know Act," Act of June 21, 1957, P.L. 390, as amended, 65 P.S. §§ 66.1-66.4 (Act) and under Section 5-1104 of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, 351 Pa. Code § 5.5-1104. The appellants, Eiss and Moak, filed their answer and the parties thereafter entered into a stipulation of the facts. Epstein and Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. filed a motion for summary judgment in their favor which was granted by the court below. The appellants have appealed.

Section 2 of the "Right to Know Act," 65 P.S. § 66.2, provides:

"Every public record of an agency shall, at reasonable times be open for examination and inspection by any citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." Section 1(1), 65 P.S. §§ 66.1(1), defines agency as:

"[a]ny department, board or commission of the executive branch of the Commonwealth, any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, or any State or municipal authority or similar organization created by or pursuant to a statute which declares in substance that such organization ...


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