ELLWOOD CITY — Two Ellwood City Council members have received legal documents ordering them to turn over information sought in a lawsuit filed against the borough.
According to documents filed at the Lawrence County Courthouse, Rob Brough and Lisa Guerrera have been sent subpoenas from the borough ordering them to produce deleted comments from a Jan. 21 post on a Facebook social media page they run. They also were asked to provide a list of all blocked and banned users who were unable to see or make comments on the post.
Brough said Tuesday he would have no comment on the case. Guerrera did not respond to calls from The Ledger for comment. But both rejected a council motion earlier this year asking them to voluntarily turn over the information, saying the site is a private campaign page and not a public site covered by open records laws.
The situation arises from a civil lawsuit filed recently in county court by resident Jan Williams, who unsuccessfully ran for a Democratic nomination to council in May’s primary. The case was moved forward after a July 29 hearing before President Judge Dominick Motto in which both sides agreed the borough did not have access to the information sought by Williams on its own.
Ellwood City was given until the end of this month to file its arguments in the case. And then Williams’ attorneys will have another 30 days to respond.
Williams started the process in January when she filed a Right to Know Law request with the borough over the “Ellwood City Council-Rob Brough and Lisa Guerrera” Facebook page after the pair posted a message attacking other council members over their vote involving assistance to embattled Ellwood City Medical Center workers.
Ellwood City rejected her request, saying it did not have the information she wanted, but Williams appealed the decision to the state’s Office of Open Records, which ruled Feb. 22 that the borough had not proved the information should be exempt from public-records law.
Williams filed her lawsuit in June after the borough could not comply with the ruling, continuing to assert the web page is run in a matter that makes it look like it is an official borough site, including a lead photo of the municipal building and discussions of ongoing borough business by active council members.