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Our Opinion: Not transparent

We’ve been round and round on this project at the intersection of Market St. and Pennsylvania Ave.

Well, technically, city council made a decision — PennDOT’s option of a roundabout beginning in, last we heard, 2021. But we all know that’s not the final word, as council could now change its votes to a traffic signal at the Feb. 17 monthly meeting of the quorum.

That very “quorum” left us scrambling on Tuesday night when the Times Observer learned through the grapevine that PennDOT was addressing council on its options.

That upset us very much; we looked into the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law, immediately expressed our disapproval in writing to the city manager and council, and even met with the city manager and a PennDOT official on Wednesday.

That’s why you now have the front page stories telling you about where their heads are following that Tuesday evening gathering.

Okay, we have since been persuaded that — despite the quorum — Tuesday’s gathering was called by PennDOT as a “conference,” according to city manager Nancy Freenock.

As defined by Section 703, conferences are “any training program or seminar, or any session arranged by State or Federal agencies for local agencies, organized and conducted for the sole purpose of providing information to agency members on matters directly related to their official responsibilities.”

But, while this “conference” may not have been illegal, it certainly wasn’t “transparent.” We don’t understand why it wasn’t made public.

If this was just for your information, why wasn’t it also for our information.

This conference was regarding a specific issue that council has bounced back and forth and back and forth for months.

And now, all of a sudden, it’s a secret?

It wasn’t advertised.

It wasn’t made public.

Because it was a conference.

We have no idea all the questions council asked of PennDOT.

We have no idea what new information PennDOT shared.

We have no idea why.

Not until a day later anyway.

“As you know, City staff and Council strive for transparency as we endeavor to provide quality services to the residents of the City of Warren,” said Freenock. “Please let me know if you have further questions.”

Leaving the Times Observer and the city’s constituents in the dark is not transparency.

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