Posted by on April 23, 2020 9:17 pm

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Categories: Coronavirus in Pennsylvania Coronavirus in Schuylkill County Local News

State Sen. Dave Argall got a chance to question the head of the state’s Dept. of Community and Economic Development about the secret business waiver list.

That’s the list Gov. Tom Wolf has kept under lock and key since the beginning of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. It contains a list of which so-called non-life-sustaining businesses Wolf granted waivers to operate during the pandemic shutdown and which ones were denied.

Numerous small businesses in Schuylkill County have been impacted by the Wolf administration’s decision to close businesses he deemed non-essential.

Argall received, essentially, a lot of hot air in response. But definitely not an answer.

Argall Question on Business Waiver List Sidestepped by DCED

During a Zoom conference call among state officials on Thursday, Argall asked DCED Sec. Dennis Davin:

“The governor stated that transparency is absolutely essential. The free press looks over your shoulder. Every citizen of Pennsylvania, whom we work for, looks over your shoulder. If that’s true, why has the governor’s administration absolutely refused to be transparent and allow the public and the press to see the list of which employers received waivers and which were turned down. Why is that list being kept as some kind of state secret?”

That’s when you needed to open a window to let all the smoke and hot air out as Davin tried to articulate the Wolf administration’s secretive ways.

Davin replied:

“Thank you Sen. Argall. Good to hear from you. And I appreciate your question. It’s a question I’ve had to answer in a number of different situations and settings. Right now, we’re going through the entire waiver list to take a look at opportunities that we have the appropriate quality control in them. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of information in that. There was over 42,000 waivers that our staff reviewed, beginning when the closing orders took place. There’s a lot of information in there. There’s a lot of information from the businesses. Each of the waivers came with a variety of information to support a waiver request. And our folks went through that to the best of their ability and did a good job to the best of their ability. Again, we’ve been going through that list for the better part of the last two weeks now as a quality control to make sure that all the decisions that were made were the correct decisions. In some cases, we’re looking at these things and looking at some of the information again and we may make some changes but it hasn’t happened too often. We want to make sure that when the list is out there … obviously we wouldn’t put any proprietary information from the businesses … when the list is out there, we want to make sure it is good, quality information we provide to the public. And that’s the commitment the governor’s made.”

You need a bread crumb trail to find your way back to the original question. And Argall clearly expressed frustration with Davin’s roundabout answer to the governor’s continued side-stepping of this issue.

He asked again, “How much longer until the list becomes public?”

Davin replied, “That’s what we’re working on right now Gov.. Senator. I can’t give you a time frame right now but we’re putting a lot of energy into it.”

Argall concluded by saying, “I’m sure you understand the frustration.”

Video

You can watch the full exchange here:

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