Jan. 23, 2024

WEST GROVE, PA – After an eight-month battle with the city of Chester to obtain records concerning the city’s perilous financial situation, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records has ruled in favor of state Rep. John Lawrence’s (R-West Grove) right-to-know request seeking answers.

Last spring, state-appointed city receiver, Michael Doweary, warned city leaders that Chester could face disincorporation after years of fiscal mismanagement. Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland responded by telling Doweary that his office “provided the receiver two credible plans” to address the city’s financial woes. To date, those plans remain a mystery.

Last spring, Lawrence filed right-to-know requests with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and Chester’s Office of Receiver, seeking copies of the plans, but both denied they existed. Lawrence then filed a right-to-know request with the city of Chester in August, after which the city confirmed the existence of the records but blocked their release to the general public. Asserting that the law requires such plans be released, Lawrence appealed his case to the Office of Open Records and won.

“On Nov. 30, the Office of Open Records granted my appeal, requiring the city of Chester to provide the requested records within 30 days. Now that the time has passed for the city to appeal this case, the office’s decision is binding, and the city must turn over the records,” said Lawrence.

“Today, I sent a letter to counsel representing the city in this matter, demanding that copies of the ‘two credible plans’ be sent to me no later than Jan. 25, 2024. I look forward to seeing the plans and learning how the city is proposing to address its financial crisis,” Lawrence said.

Editor’s note: Documentation, including Rep. Lawrence’s right-to-know requests, correspondence with Chester’s legal counsel, and the final determination from the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records can be found at replawrence.com/correspondence.

Representative John Lawrence
13th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Donna Pinkham