And then there were five.

Authorized as an 11-member board, the beleaguered York City Human Relations Commission lost yet another member this week.

Commissioner Theodore Miller wasn't specific in his resignation letter, but the past six months have left the commission a non-functioning shambles -- down six members, without an executive director and with all local discrimination complaints being referred to the state Human Relations Commission.

Maybe Miller just figured, "What's the point?"

The quasi-independent agency, partially funded with taxpayer dollars, is supposed to investigate complaints of discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, as well as to monitor and report hate crimes and other civil tensions in the city.

However, the shrinking commission has been focused almost exclusively on its own problems since Nov. 8, 2012.

That's when some commissioners began questioning the work of its executive director, Stephanie Seaton.

About a week later, the commission held a closed-door executive session to discuss "personnel issues." By meeting's end, they had placed Seaton on paid administrative leave and voted to hire an outside attorney to conduct an investigation of the accuracy of case reports and the status of all cases dating back three years.

The commission fired Seaton on March 18, apparently based on the findings of the attorney's report.


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We say "apparently" because York City so far has refused to release the publicly funded document. Last week it denied The York Dispatch's Right to Know request for a copy of the report, citing several sections of the law that exempt certain records from being made public.

One of the exemptions cited was a 1974 privacy law. Yet Seaton -- the person whose privacy is at stake -- would like to see the report released.

She hasn't even seen it herself.

According to Melissa Melewsky, an attorney with the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, the city is interpreting the exemptions to the open records law too broadly.

The exemptions "must be narrowly construed," she said, adding that, in some cases, government agencies have the discretion to release information even if an exemption applies.

We suggest this is a case where York City should use that discretion.

This week after Miller resigned, the rest of the board spent the remainder of the meeting discussing how it might attract new volunteers.

One way might be to show the community some transparency. Release the investigator's report, come clean on what's ailing the commission and lay out a plan to correct it.

Surely there are civic-minded people willing to help get the agency back on track and back to the important business now piling up.

But first they probably want to know what exactly they'd be getting into.