Editorial Boards Across Pennsylvania Are “Demanding More Transparency” From Governor Tom Wolf After He “Opted For A Shutdown Of Access To Public Records”

Wolf’s Process For Granting Waivers To Allow Businesses To Operate Has Been Marked By “Secrecy And Inconsistencies”

The Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board: “More Transparency Needed From Gov. Wolf As Some Pennsylvanians Protest Pandemic Shutdown”

  • “Businesses whose requests for waivers allowing them to operate have been denied have joined a growing chorus demanding more transparency into why such decisions are being made. (That hue and cry wasn’t helped when in March, Wolf’s former cabinet business was allowed to continue to operate; when the governor was questioned by Spotlight PA, the waiver was revoked.)”
  • “Throughout, the process and criteria for granting waivers, and reasons for rejecting or rescinding them, has not been transparent. Business owners are not the only people entitled to this information. Pennsylvanians need to know the underlying criteria for when they can start partaking in aspects of life and commerce that have been shut down.”
  • “Shutting off access to information can be dangerous at any time — especially during a health crisis. That’s why Wolf’s lack of support for a bill that would broaden access to public records during a disaster declaration is also troubling.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board: “Gov. Wolf, Officials Need To Provide Details Of Their Decisions”

  • “Gov. Tom Wolf may have had the best interests of Pennsylvanians in mind when he ordered the shutdown of businesses that were not ‘life-sustaining’ as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19. But the secrecy and inconsistency in determining which businesses could stay open has fueled ongoing suspicion and criticism.”
  • “The lack of transparency in the waiver process has been appalling from the start, and there is no substantive reason for withholding information on how decisions were made. The governor and his administration should avoid a prolonged legal battle and be forthcoming immediately with all the details related to the waiver process.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board: “Lack Of Transparency: Public Records Requests Ignored By The State”

  • “Rather than a commitment to openness, the administration of Tom Wolf has opted for a shutdown of access to public records and created a state government that can largely operate in secret for an undetermined period.”
  • “The flashpoint in the controversy relates to the Wolf administration’s refusal to provide documents related to the granting of waivers that allowed some businesses to reopen during the shutdown. The process, which was handled by the Department of Community and Economic Development, has been marked by secrecy and inconsistencies in determining what businesses received waivers and which were denied.”

LNP Editorial Board: “Gov. Tom Wolf has been an imperfect leader during a health crisis that is unprecedented in modern times… Yet our elected leaders, especially those in the highest offices, must always be questioned regarding their actions. We should expect accountability and transparency at all times.”

  • “In March, you closed businesses that were not deemed to be ‘life-sustaining.’ Thousands of businesses received waivers from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to remain open. But many owners and observers say the process was slow, arbitrary and cloaked in secrecy. Why hasn’t there been more transparency surrounding this process?”
  • “The secretive nature of waiver applications seems to fly in the face of the transparency you tout as a hallmark of your administration. With no reasoning made public as to why applications were approved or denied, the process appears arbitrary or biased. On what basis can we trust the process was as fair as possible?”

The Patriot News Editorial Board: “Gov. Wolf Has Pledged Transparency In The Coronavirus Crisis; Now It’s Time For Him To Show It”

  • “If Gov. Wolf has been trying to be transparent in his decisions during this pandemic, he may not understand the definition of the word. Transparency means things are clear and well understood. Transparency means questions are answered and information is readily available. Transparency means we should know why the governor took steps to close down some businesses and leave others open. None of this is true.”
  • “It should be easy enough to explain how waivers were granted, what criteria was used to determine essential businesses, and who made the decisions… We understand we’re still in the midst of a pandemic and people are dying. But the governor and his administration have a responsibility to let the people who elected him know what he is doing and why he is doing it.

York Dispatch Editorial Board: “To make matters worse, transparency has become a major issue for the state.”