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WATCH: A free virtual panel on Pa.’s patchwork system of local governments

by Spotlight PA Staff |

Tioga elected officials’ decision to hire Timothy Loehmann as the borough’s sole police officer followed a long line of troubling actions taken by its leaders.
Min Xian / Spotlight PA

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After Tioga borough hired the Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and faced intense local and national scrutiny for the decision, the government of the small Pennsylvania town nearly imploded.

As residents protested and the resignations of public officials, including the police officer, brought Tioga government to a halt, the brush with the national limelight exposed the borough’s broken inner workings.

A Spotlight PA investigation revealed that beneath the troubling hire were long-simmering vendettas among elected officials, disorganization, and a lack of critical oversight — problems facing many of Pennsylvania’s more than 2,500 cities, towns, townships, and boroughs. Why is the state set up this way? How does this system affect taxpayers and core government services? And how can the public hold officials accountable and participate in local affairs?

On Thursday, Jan. 26, Spotlight PA held a discussion on Pennsylvania’s local governments, and how their oversight — or lack thereof — impacts residents and governance.

Watch the conversation below.

Our panelists were:

  • Min Xian, local accountability reporter, Spotlight PA State College bureau

  • Matthew Creme Jr., municipal lawyer

  • Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel, Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association

  • David Rusk, senior fellow, D.C. Policy Center

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