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Wealthy donors help Shapiro prepare to be guv

Plus, meet our new governor editor/reporter Katie Meyer.


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This is The Investigator, a free weekly newsletter with the top news from across Pennsylvania.
A weekly newsletter by Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.

December 1, 2022 | spotlightpa.org
Shapiro's preparations, certification delays, ballot impacts, new editor, shut down, test scores, passed down, internal report, and AG nominee.

Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro is preparing for his inauguration and making key decisions about his administration surrounded by some of the well-heeled donors who helped make his campaign the richest in Pennsylvania history. 

Altogether, the 37 members of Shapiro’s recently announced transition team and the 23-member inauguration team personally donated more than $805,000 to his campaign during the uncontested Democratic primary and barely competitive general electionKatie Meyer and Stephen Caruso report.

Members’ companies and affiliated political action committees also donated nearly $750,000 on top of that. 

Also this week, Votebeat's Carter Walker reports on the recount requests that are delaying the state's certification of the Nov. 8 election results

Finally, an analysis by Walker found that Pennsylvania’s policy of rejecting undated and incorrectly dated absentee and mail ballots is more likely to impact voters from communities with larger nonwhite populations.

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"The people I voted for won, but I was still upset my vote didn’t get counted."

—Oprah Means, a mother of three from Allegheny County, on having her mail ballot rejected for having an incorrect date

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» Pennsylvania House Democrats will lose their majority for at least a few weeks. Here’s why.

Meet Spotlight PA's new government editor/reporter Katie Meyer

I’m Katie Meyer, Spotlight PA’s new government editor and reporter. I joined this fall, ahead of the midterms, and can already say this is one of the best teams reporting on state government in Pennsylvania. I’m thrilled to be part of it.

I will mostly cover the new Shapiro administration in this job, and will also plan coverage and edit stories for our government reporters. Though I’m based in South Philly, I’ll often be in Harrisburg for reporting (which means if any Capitol people want to share spicy tips, I am once again available to meet for coffee at the local establishment of your choosing).

I’m originally from Troy, New York, but I’ve been covering Pennsylvania politics for over six years — primarily in public radio. In 2016, I moved to Harrisburg out of college to report on the state Capitol for WITF, then relocated to Philadelphia in 2020 to cover state, city, and national politics and policy for WHYY. Along with day-to-day coverage, I hosted a weekly politics podcast while at WITF and guest-hosted both stations' morning shows.

I loved working in public radio because the medium lends itself extremely well to human stories and gives reporters space to make complicated policy issues accessible. I feel the same way about Spotlight PA. It’s a privilege to work for a place with such a careful, attentive approach to the reporting it puts out and the impact those stories have. I’m also stoked to still be working for a newsroom with a great union.

In my coverage, I try to center the impact that politicians' and state officials’ actions and inaction have on regular people — for instance, the way stagnant funding has affected county mental health services, or how anti-immigrant political rhetoric informs policy. I’m also interested in the political maneuvering that shapes state spending and the many ways that money determines political fortunes in Pennsylvania.

With a new governor starting his term in January and a divided legislature for the first time in more than a decade, there is a ton on the government team’s to-do list in the next year. Thanks so much for reading and supporting our work, and always feel free to send tips to kmeyer@spotlightpa.org. They are much appreciated!—Katie Meyer, Spotlight PA

Support Spotlight PA's vital investigative journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be TRIPLED.
This week's top news story in PennsylvaniaSHUT DOWN: WITF reports that Berks County's immigration detention center will close early next year. Federal authorities informed local officials that a contract won't be renewed. The 96-bed facility has been used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to confine migrant families. Activists who have long criticized the center celebrated Wednesday's news of its pending closure.

This week's second top news story in PennsylvaniaTEST SCORES: Pennsylvania's 2022 standardized test scores are out and a pandemic-era slide has continued. The Inquirer (paywall) reports that English scores for seventh and eighth graders were up, as were math scores at most grade levels, but the results still fell below where they were in 2019. English scores for third through sixth graders were down again, reflecting slides seen nationwide.

This week's third top news story in PennsylvaniaPASSED DOWN: Western Pennsylvania health care titans UPMC and Allegheny Health Network are spending huge sums on state-of-the-art facilities they say will improve care quality and convenience, but which critics worry will lead to higher bills for patients. In other health care news: TribLIVE profiles the dwindling number of hospitals trying to maintain their independence amid a wave of mergers.

INTERNAL REPORT: Dauphin County won't release a report on the findings of an "in depth"-but-speedy review of county prison policies, one put in motion amid scrutiny over in-custody deaths. PennLive reports the county says the report was only done to shield the municipality from lawsuits. The outlet also said the person who conducted the review refused to provide his credentials upon request.

AG NOMINEE: The Legal Intelligencer (paywall) reports Michelle Henry, the long-time first deputy to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, is the likely choice to be Shapiro's interim successor when he assumes the role of governor in January. Meanwhile, William Sasso, a GOP power broker and onetime law partner of the governor-elect, will chair Shapiro's gubernatorial transition team.

» AP: Pennsylvania Senate to put progressive prosecutor on trial

» KDKA: There's a new Pennsylvania Freedom Caucus

» INQUIRER: Unknown company gets key role at nursing homes (paywall)

» STATEIMPACT: ‘Gasland’ driller will pay millions for new water system

» TIMES LEADER: Luzerne Co. certifies election results after deadlocking

Send your answers to riddler@spotlightpa.org.

TREE TOP (Case No. 177)A tree doubled in height each year until it reached its maximum height over the course of ten years. How many years did it take for the tree to reach half its maximum height?
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