The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

February 20, 2013

Readers' Forum 2-20 | Turn focus now to Route 219 north

— There is an avalanche of excitement over the Route 219 expansion from Somerset to Meyersdale. This has been given attention for some time and politicians have been intensely involved.

But there is also a Route 219 north proceeding from Ebensburg. All we got some years ago was a short piece of four-lane highway heading toward Carrolltown with the name of the late John P. Murtha attached to it.

It is painfully obvious that our politicians have forgotten about Route 219 north, but those of us who travel the road on occasion are constantly reminded that it stands in critical need of a major makeover into four lanes.

Perhaps a sense of urgency would be rekindled if we took the politicians, chained them to stools for a few days in the center of Northern Cambria, and forced them to watch 18-wheelers and triaxles negotiate some of those 90-degree turns in that area.

Pastor Clayton Harriger

Belsano

Council should avoid closed JRA meeting

“Authority to answer questions: But closed-door format for briefing has city council members unhappy” (Tuesday Tribune-Democrat) should be of concern to the entire area served by Johnstown Redevelopment Authority and, more specifically, Johnstown Regional Sewage operations.

The idea that issues relating to billing changes made by JRA/Johnstown Regional Sewage are now off limits to the general public is more of the hide-and-seek attitude of JRA. These changes were taken and approved by actions of the JRA board at open public meetings.

Personnel issues could be classified as an exemption under the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law/Open Meetings Act, and permit a closed executive session.

The meeting scheduled for today requires public notice 24 hours in advance. It could then be recessed for an executive session to discuss personnel matters, and not sewer billing issues.

Tuesday’s article includes “the closed-door format the authority leadership demanded for Wednesday’s briefing.” By what authority can the JRA board, its chairman or legal counsel demand anything from city council? 

Home Rule Charter Article III: “Council, as a body, or through a committee thereof, shall have the power to make inquiries and investigations into the affairs of the municipality and its government and into the conduct of any of the authorities, boards, commissions or committees thereof. In the conduct of inquiries and investigations, council shall have authority to compel the attendance of witnesses.”

Council would be wise to not participate in any session that is not in compliance with the Sunshine Law/Open Meetings Act.

Jack Williams

Former city councilman

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