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Trib editorial: Upping the price for silence in bid for Amazon's HQ2

| Sunday, March 4, 2018, 9:00 p.m.

It's outrageous that Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have doubled down on their efforts to keep secret their bid for Amazon's second headquarters despite a ruling for disclosure by the state's Office of Open Records.

PGHQ2, the private company formed to develop the bid, announced it will appeal the OOR's decision to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. This, after at least 17 requests to release details of the bid, including entreaties from the Trib.

In its commonsense ruling for transparency, the OOR maintained that what's been concealed is neither trade secrets nor confidential proprietary information. “Although the city and Allegheny County maintain that the proposal has economic value, and disclosure of the proposal would allow other jurisdictions to appropriate that economic value, the proposal is not covered by the trade secrets exemption,” wrote Kyle Applegate, an OOR appeals officer.

So now a legal wrangle is in play to keep hidden that which is clearly the public's business.

PGHQ2 counters that if Pittsburgh is selected by Amazon, “anything that involves government funds will go through a robust public process.” That is, after the deal is done, presumably leaving little, if any, public recourse — much like a teachers contract that's deemed fair by the recipients but not presented publicly until it's ratified.

The people have a right to know what's being offered before any deal becomes legally binding. Taking this fight to court is an affront to the public's right to know.

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