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'Political hit job': Senate axes Pa. victim advocate


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
November 17, 2020
An ousted advocate, Philadelphia indoor dining, delayed election hearings, front-line fatigue, a poll defense, and an amazing carving. It's Tuesday.

Fresh off sweeping victories in the election, the Republican-controlled Senate on Monday blocked state Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm from serving another six years in the job, dealing a blow to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

The 32-18 vote against Storm — including nearly all Republicans and five Democrats — came after eleventh-hour attempts by Democrats to stop the vote, Spotlight PA reports. Wolf recalled her nomination, but Republicans, in a rarely used move, voted down the recall.

A spokesperson for Wolf, Lyndsay Kensinger, said in a statement the governor “is very disappointed that the Senate voted this nomination down without even the benefit of a hearing to consider her qualifications.”

THE CONTEXT: For months, Storm has been in the crosshairs of the GOP, in part, because of her outspokenness in high-profile cases involving victims of sexual abuse.

And in an interview Monday, she characterized the vote as “a political hit job” masterminded by the Senate’s top Republican, Joe Scarnati. (Scarnati did not respond to a request for an interview Monday.) 

But it wasn't just Republicans who voted against Storm. Sen. Sharif Street, of Philadelphia, said she had not properly represented communities of color.

"Just because our victimhood is different, just because we look different, just because we come from poor neighborhoods, just because we are from Philadelphia, doesn’t mean we are not victims," he said. 


“It would be nice to have more than one option."

— Sharon Calloway, a frequent train traveler from Uniontown, on Amtrak's proposal to add an additional Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg daily trip

POST IT: Thank you, Kristine Lynne E., for this image of the beginning of the Allegheny River in Potter County. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
SHUT IT DOWN: As the state continued to report thousands of new COVID-19 cases, Philadelphia announced it would close restaurants to indoor dining and ban indoor gatherings, The Inquirer reports. While public health officials say the moves are necessary to stop the rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations, restaurants fear they will go out of business

FROM NOW TO LATER: Despite promising to begin a review of the presidential election "now," a key House Republican told The Morning Call the hearings likely won't happen this year. Still, the lawmaker, Rep. Seth Grove, said changes to the state's election law are a "must."

A LEG UP: On Monday, the biotech company Moderna delivered some good news: Preliminary data shows its experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections. One Pittsburgh-based expert told TribLIVE this vaccine — rather than Pfizer's — could have a leg up, because it doesn't require ultra-cold storage.

FRONT-LINE FATIGUE: Health-care workers and others on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic are bracing for the latest surge, the York Daily Record reports. The head of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association is hopeful nurses won't have to return to working five 12-hour shifts a week but admits it could happen.

THE WRONG DIRECTION: The number of uninsured children in Pennsylvania ticked up in 2019, the Post-Gazette reports — representing 128,000 young people. The highest rates of uninsured children were seen in rural counties.
» WE'RE GETTING SO CLOSE: Help put us over the top and join Spotlight PA today and your contribution will be DOUBLED.

Thank you to everyone who had their gifts DOUBLED yesterday: Richard G., James M., James H., Joe M., Len & Joyce W., Anne & Walt G., Jennifer K., Milton C., Robert J., Lorraine G., William E., John S., Mimi H-B, Reid S., and Paul K.

LANCASTER LEATHER: When members of the 117th U.S. Congress are sworn in this January, they will each get a little piece of Pennsylvania. A Lancaster-based leatherworker has been tasked with making wallets that will hold representatives' voting cards.

TURKEY-DAY PLANS: Pennsylvanians are gearing up for a most unusual Thanksgiving. In Philadelphia, just 22% of survey respondents said they plan on traveling for the holiday. If you are planning to fly, here's how you can stay safe. But before you go, you might want to check out this new tool that estimates the chances someone else at your gathering might be sick.

INCREDIBLE CARVING: No, not your skills slicing and dicing turkey, but this Erie man's incredible carving of a damaged maple tree. Master carver Huaman Mallqui, 40, calls his sculpture 'Nest of Dreams.' Mallqui works with interior designers and commercial clients worldwide designing and creating new pieces or restoring ancient wooden artwork.

WHAT GIVES? You're not alone if you're wondering how much to trust political polls going forward. The director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll makes his case, arguing that people's unhappiness stems from "overestimation or overreliance" on the numbers.

HEADS UP: Literally — if you're in central Pennsylvania, tilt your head up at the sky this Friday around 6:18 p.m. to catch a glimpse of the International Space Station. You can type in your own location here to get a complete schedule in your area.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. If you love the scrambler, make a donation and we'll DOUBLE it.

Yesterday's answer: Merchandise

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Jason B., Lynne E., Mary Ellen T., Dianne K., Theodore W., Thomas B., Heidi B., David I., Tracey C., Doug W., Kirk W., Joel S., Charles M., Ron P., Bill C., Dennis K., Irene R., Carol D., and Robert S.
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