Whether or not three Cecil Township supervisors are found to have violated the Sunshine Act by privately meeting Aug. 6 with officials from Range Resources, it can be said without equivocation that they violated the spirit of the law.
After deciding in June not to have a private sit-down with Range officials, Supervisors Elizabeth Cowden, Frank Ludwin and Tom Casciola paid a visit to the energy company’s headquarters in Southpointe, apparently without telling their fellow supervisors Andy Schrader and Mike Debbis, and without the knowledge of John Smith, the township’s solicitor. The meeting only came to light when Jim Cannon, Range’s government relations manager, sent an email message to all the supervisors saying that many issues were discussed and “there were several ideas we all considered ...”
Not including two other supervisors or the solicitor in this discussion, and not even making them aware that it had taken place, seems, at best, sneaky and underhanded. Defying the advice of their insurance carrier, who urged them not to meet privately with Range officials because of pending litigation, seems positively foolhardy. But, above all, having the majority of supervisors present for a meeting without residents being in the know about it certainly seems a slap to the whole notion of openness in government.
Schrader asked Gene Vittone, the county’s district attorney, to determine if any illegality took place. Even if no charges are ever filed, it can safely be said the three Cecil supervisors who participated in this meeting are guilty of poor judgment.