Our attempts to gather information related to concerns that have surfaced regarding Kennett Township’s manager Eden Ratliff have run into a roadblock: Mr. Ratliff himself. Laws at the federal (Freedom of Information) and state (Right to Know) level are designed to promote transparency in government, in part by assuring that every state agency designates an official (a Right to Know or RTK Officer) to respond within 5 days to RTK requests for information. In the case of Kennett Township, however, that official is... Eden Ratliff.
To date, Mr. Ratliff has used a range of legal manoeuvres to delay or deny almost every RTK request we have submitted to him, or simply refuses to respond within the time frame set by state law. The result is that no resident will be able to solicit a reasonably prompt and precise response from Kennett Township, as long as Ratliff remains its RTK officer. Township supervisors have yet to take concrete action in response to our concerns that this is (yet another) obvious conflict of interest.
Despite the best intention of Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Act, transparency appears to be a tool Ratliff uses when it suits him. On the one hand, he volunteers details to a news reporter regarding his request to the Ethics Commission for an Advisory Opinion and the Commission’s response, citing this as evidence that he is responsive to concerns about conflicts of interest, and prepared to be transparent. On the other hand, he waits until virtually the last minute to respond to our RTK request for these very same documents, and then automatically invokes a 30 day period for “legal review”. These documents will help to reconcile the apparent contradictions between Ratliff’s public statements and the public record, and establish the extent to which Ratliff might have misled the public and/or the Township supervisors regarding his conflicts of interest.