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PEOPLE IN Western Pennsylvania love their changing seasons, but all of them in the same week? That's unusual. Last week started with ice and sleet on Monday, followed by warm sun on Tuesday, then a record high temperature for the date of 68 on Wednesday. By Thursday, it was back to snow and cold again. If wild temperature swings like those become regular meteorological features -- as climate change experts predict -- the folks who have to figure out how much road salt and snow removal equipment to buy will be wishing for the good old days.

IT WASN'T long ago that the notion of building Downtown housing was a fanciful one. Now, it seems developers can't create apartments fast enough. That's what Philadelphia's PMC Property Group wants to do at the John P. Robin Civic Building on Ross Street, which currently houses government offices. Pittsburgh Councilman Patrick Dowd is worried that the sale of the 13-story building would hurt the city's ability to deliver planning, zoning and permitting services, which are handled there now. The conversion to 100 apartments, however, would return that building to the tax rolls. Officials just need to make sure that they find accessible space for conducting the people's business.

THE PEOPLE'S business includes all three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. Fortunately for the people's right to know, an Ohio judge made the right call last week when he ruled that the nonjury trial of two Steubenville High Schools students charged with raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl must be open to the public. Under Ohio law, whether juvenile cases are open to the public is at the discretion of judges. Judge Thomas Lipps correctly decided that, because the case has spawned rumors of cover-ups and favoritism, it is important for the public to see what transpires. To ensure that justice is being fairly administered, it is important for this trial to be conducted in the cold light of public scrutiny.

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