Mellow's name is anything but to many
Several local colleges asserted recently that their boards of directors had engaged in "thoughtful consideration" before removing the name of former state Sen. Robert Mellow from campus facilities. Perhaps now, those boards will engage in thoughtful consideration before they adorn buildings with the names of living politicians - especially since those politicians just pass along public money.
The more important thoughtful consideration involving Mr. Mellow was by the state Supreme Court. It struck a blow for transparency in a case stemming from the state Senate's use of public money to pay for Mr. Mellow's initial legal representation during the corruption investigation that sent him to federal prison.
Soon after federal agents searched Mr. Mellow's Archbald home in 2010, Marc Levy of the Associated Press filed a right-to-know request for the identify of senators and Senate staff for whom the Senate had secured legal counsel at public expense. Displaying the same level of hubris that got Mr. Mellow into trouble in the first place, the Senate provided the dollar amounts but deleted the other data, nonsensically claiming that the very identity of the clients was a matter of lawyer-client privilege.
The AP appealed and the Supreme Court ruled that the identity of the client can be withheld only if revealing it also would reveal the specific advice provided by the lawyer - a highly unlikely circumstance.
In an opinion written by Justice Max Baer, the court also found that general descriptions of legal services provided to the clients are not privileged information, thus limiting the disclosure exemption only to specific communications and advice.
The Senate's attempts to cloak Mr. Mellow's publicly funded legal aid in secrecy speaks to the corrupt culture in the Legislature that fostered Mr. Mellow's illicit use of public resources, the Bonusgate corruption investigation and others. It's shameful that the Supreme Court had to order the simple disclosure of how the Senate spent public money. Clearly, the Senate needs a dose of the thoughtful consideration finally employed by the colleges and the court.