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'Mistakes were made' with maskless hearing, GOP leader admits


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Kamala Kelkar
December 3, 2020
Wolf tackles climate change, "mistakes were made," COVID relief dispute, first snow, a new database, and a Hershey xmas upgrade. It's Thursday!

Gov. Tom Wolf revealed plans in Pennsylvania to prepare for floods caused by greenhouse gases Wednesday, as the United Nations gave a startling outlook in its State of the Climate Report.

The report said 2020 was on track to be the third hottest year ever recorded. It also emphasized that extreme weather events such as high temperatures, droughts, and severe floods only compound threats posed by COVID-19 to economic security and public health.

“Dear friends, humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a speech at Columbia University. “Nature always strikes back, and it is already doing so with growing force and fury.”

Wolf, in his own news conference, said he is asking the State Planning Board for recommendations about land use, zoning, and stormwater management to protect homes and businesses from flash floods. 

The announcement was prompted by flash floods in Philadelphia and Delaware County earlier this year that left many homeless and caused millions of dollars in damage, NBC 10 reports.

THE CONTEXT: Wolf has grappled with the oil and gas industry and GOP leaders to keep greenhouse gas emissions at bay.

In September, he vetoed a bill that would have prevented the state from joining a cap and trade program in 2022 that targets carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector.

Republican lawmakers argued that joining the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would be bad for the economy because power companies have to purchase a credit for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit. Wolf and supporters of the initiative maintain that it is essential to curbing the effects of climate change. 

Still, the governor has repeatedly been criticized by climate activists for his support of a massive ethane cracker plant in Western Pennsylvania and his administration's approach to the controversial Mariner East pipelines.


"You don’t have to be a celebrity to feel like a celebrity with me."

— Ricky Codio, a Philadelphia fashion photographer, on working not only with famous faces but also regular people facing difficult situations

POST IT: A beautiful foggy morning in Clearfield County. Thanks, Rich R., for the submission! Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
MISTAKES MADE: Breaking his silence in an interview with Spotlight PA, the top Republican in the Pennsylvania Senate acknowledged “mistakes were made” and coronavirus mitigation guidelines were not followed during a controversial public hearing in Gettysburg last week. Sen. Jake Corman said his office is reviewing the meeting after its organizer, Doug Mastriano, tested positive for COVID-19 later the same day.

COVID RELIEF: The state's two senators — Bob Casey, a Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Republican — were at odds in Washington over a $908 billion coronavirus relief package. The Morning Call reports Casey would like to see more money for state and local governments, while Toomey was skeptical. As Spotlight PA previously reported, state lawmakers used the last of Pennsylvania's aid money to prop up the budget.

DOUBLING DOWN: TribLIVE reports that a congressman and the challenger to Democratic incumbent Rep. Conor Lamb asked Pennsylvania’s highest court to stay its own order from last week as the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to take up their case that opposes the state’s mail-in voting law

SHORTER QUARANTINE: In revised guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a 14-day quarantine period is still recommended, but that it could end after just seven days if a person tests negative for COVID-19 in the final two days of that period, The Inquirer reports. The announcement comes as Pennsylvania's new daily cases once again topped 8,000, with Gov. Tom Wolf calling the surge "violent."

FIRST SNOW: Wind-blown escapees from the lake-effect storms of northwestern Pennsylvania and Ohio dusted Chester, Bucks, and northwestern Chester County, as well as the Poconos region. There’s also a storm headed to the area this weekend, but the National Weather Service says it will be wet, not white.
» TIME IS RUNNING OUT: Help us keep Harrisburg honest in 2021 by becoming a member now. As an added bonus, contribute $15/month or $180/year and get this exclusive tote bag. We only have 27 left, so don't wait!

A big thank-you to Teresa H. for claiming a tote yesterday and Alex G. for claiming one on Tuesday via GiveGab! Get yours now.

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY: For too long, journalists have often — if not exclusively — relied on white experts in their reporting. We at Spotlight PA wanted to show a commitment toward acknowledging and reversing this trend.. So we launched a database of diverse sources in Pennsylvania for journalists to use to improve representation and inclusion in their work. Tell us what you think, and continue to hold us to account, too.

STAR GAZING: What was the photoshoot like for this New York Times Style Magazine's profile of Philadelphia’s own Patti LaBelle? Oh, it was inside her home, she was playing Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre’s “California Love,” and it smelled like nutmeg and cinnamon because there was a peach cobbler in the oven. Yes, we know. You’re welcome. 

TOO SOON: If you’ve watched television during the holidays in the past 31 years, you’d recognize Hershey’s commercial with its triangle of red, green, and silver Kisses, jumping to each note of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” This year, it got an upgrade, but some just weren’t ready.

PAY BLACK WOMEN: In Pittsburgh, Black women make 54 cents for every dollar made by a white man, which makes them even more vulnerable to health and safety risks during the pandemic. The city’s Gender Equality Commission has had enough.

PLEASE SPEAK: The holiday season, plus the pandemic and isolation, may be a pressure cooker for people struggling with their mental health. Pennsylvania experts have pooled resources and emphasized that the best place to start is by acknowledging and expressing your feelings.

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. Love the scrambler? Make a donation to help us end 2020 strong.

Yesterday's answer: Sanctuary 

Congrats to our daily winners: Susan D., Thomas B., Gail H., Craig W., Jeffery S., Mary Ellen T., Edward M., Lynne E., Dennis and Rose E., Carol D., Robin S., Joel S., Kim C., Doug W., George S., Deb N., Jill A-S., Patricia R., John C., Dianne K., Perry H., Bill C., David I., Lance L., Ron P., Irene R., and Chris W. 
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