The Arneson firing: Legally dubious
Gov. Tom Wolf sure has an odd sense of how to command respect.
The new Democrat governor says he acted out of principle and hoping to gain the respect of the Republican Legislature in firing his predecessor’s new open records director and recalling 28 other late-term appointments of Gov. Tom Corbett. After all, you have to “push back” on things you believe in, Mr. Wolf said.
But he employed a legally dubious rationale in firing new Office of Open Records boss Eric Arneson.
The governor cited a letter from former Gov. Ed Rendell to Terry Mutchler, the state’s first open records boss, that said she was an “at-will” employee who could be fired at any time for any reason. But that’s contrary to the legislative design of the position — independent and with a six-year term.
As we previously editorialized, when Gov.- elect Wolf first made a stink, Gov. Corbett clearly was within his constitutional purview to make the appointments he did. Should Wolf do the same at the end of his tenure, we’d say the same thing.
That said, if Wolf thinks his moves demonstrate some kind of principled leadership machismo, he’s more naive than we thought. And he need feign no surprise that, having established such a confrontational tone, the objects of his supposed “respect” outreach (plus Mr. Arneson) struck back Monday in a legally sound Commonwealth Court lawsuit.