I refrain usually on commenting on stories that I cover as part of my designated duties, but some recent items with regard to Mahoning Township has really led me to wonder about a few things which actually don't relate to the township as much as it does to organizations that have some roles in the municipality.
First, I know an editorial was in the paper with regard to the barriers and I want to clear up something that I think may have been ambiguous. The reason the supervisors were given for the continued presence of the barriers is the instability of the ground beneath them. This instability, according to PennDOT, through documentation, has required the barriers' presence until they make a finding.
Herein lies once again an example of bureaucracy at work. Please correct me if I'm wrong but why didn't PennDOT ever say anything about this instability in all the years they had a guard rail there? Was it because of the construction that something changed? If so why did PennDOT require such tall jersey barriers there? And why so late in the project? Apparently it's because none of them ever bothered to drive out to the end of Ashtown Road and attempt to look over them. If they had, they would have realized the hazard those barriers create.
If an accident happens though, will PennDOT shoulder the burden? Probably not. They will hide behind governmental immunity even though they have left this hazard in place for weeks now. If they wanted to correct this problem or were motivated, the issue would not exist right now. Not to point fingers, but it took a fatality at the newly installed street light last year on Route 443 days before a ribbon cutting to get PennDOT to place warning signs there. Will we see a repeat there?
They will blame procedure or paperwork or failure on the part of the developer, but someone told someone to place those barriers there and they were forced to comply. This seems to be such a simple problem to fix if someone would just have the guts to say the hell with paperwork, let's make this intersection safe before it's too late.
It's this same bureaucracy that is sticking it to the taxpayers in Summit Hill according to my understanding of issues with regard to the building dispute in that community.
Anyone who stepped foot into those buildings could instantly tell the air conditioning wasn't working nor the heating when they first moved in there. To complicate matters further, I found out the subcontractor who allegedly failed to do the work also was fined and debarred for three years on 7/21/2010 by L&I for failure to pay prevailing wages. Since Summit Hill is a small town, it didn't take much effort to discover the fines stemmed from their work here.
So please explain to me what court system in their right mind could possibly entertain a lawsuit from this company for breach of contract when they failed to follow the law and pay their people according to the law. Summit Hill cannot pay them or the municipality would be breaking the law as well. There is no ambiguity once the company was fined and debarred by L&I in my opinion.
My sources also tell me the amount of money tied up in this issue is about $95-105,000. The matching grant from the state was for $1.25 million. If the building project cost almost three million dollars, the borough would have lived up to its end of the deal by spending $1.25 million BESIDES what they paid Hoch, so why hold up the money? Probably because bureaucracy and intelligence are sometimes mutually exclusive characteristics.
In an intelligent parallel universe, one would think the state could see that over $1.25 million was spent in addition to the amount in dispute and that the borough followed their guidelines which would release the funds promised to the borough and the suit could be settled independently. Someone fumbled the ball. The state holds the borough at fault and the borough is blaming the state, but no one seems to realize the people getting hurt in the end are us, the taxpayers who pay the salaries of these people.
That's two cases of many that serve to demonstrate that the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing and in the end the little guy gets the short end of the stick or could lose their life. But I suppose it's all in a day's bureaucratic work…