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Pa. election official to resign over bungled amendment


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Sarah Anne Hughes
February 2, 2021
Major mistake, more waiting, 1 million doses, bureaucratic hurdles, budget address, public tributes, mail ballots, and good dogs. Welcome to Tuesday.

Kathy Boockvar, the head of the Pennsylvania Department of State, will resign Feb. 5, but not because of her handling of the 2020 election

Instead, Boockvar said she's taking responsibility for a mistake made by her agency that will delay a statewide vote on whether survivors of decades-old sexual abuse should be able to sue their perpetrators and institutions that covered up the crimes. Spotlight PA was the first outlet to report the news.

"This change at the Department of State has nothing to do with the administration of the 2020 election, which was fair and accurate," Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement, before addressing survivors. "I share your anger and frustration that this happened, and I stand with you in your fight for justice."

THE CONTEXT: Survivors of child sexual abuse, including two state lawmakers, have fought for years to create a two-year window for litigation for people who have aged out of the statute of limitations.

That could be achieved through a constitutional amendment. And while one was on track to be on the ballot by this May, the Department of State's error means such a change can't appear until spring 2023 at the earliest.

There's another option: passing the change through a bill. The former top Republican in the state Senate, Joe Scarnati, previously blocked that path, saying it was unconstitutional. Current leadership is weighing the option, though it still faces an uphill climb.


"I don’t even pay attention. I wait for someone to come in and tell me what’s happening out there."

—Paul Krawiec, chef and owner of Cafe du Jour in Pittsburgh, on the possibility of financial relief coming from the state
VACCINE UPDATE: More than 1 million vaccine doses have been administered in Pennsylvania, the health department announced Monday, as the state is gearing up to launch mass vaccination sites. For providers, check Spotlight PA's vaccine map and county-by-county listing.
POST IT: Some "snow geese" found in Wrightsville. Thanks, Chris M.Send us your hidden gems (or snow pictures!), use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
STRESSED AND CONFUSED: It was a long and painful January for more than 400,000 Pennsylvanians who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment, Spotlight PA reports. Payments stalled the day after Christmas, and while they have resumed, many claimants still have not received missing money and face numerous bureaucratic hurdles.

LOCAL SOLUTION: As a state rental relief program floundered, officials in Allegheny County ditched the process and used millions of their own aid dollars to help tenants, PublicSource reports. Counties that stuck with the state program had a hard time overcoming the onerous paperwork requirements.

NEW ALLEGATIONS: The estate of a 21-year-old Ty-Rique Riley, who died after being taken to the Dauphin County Prison, is alleging that guards filed false reports to conceal that they had beaten him, PennLive reports. Riley was taken to prison after suffering a mental health crisis and died of "inflammation of his brain," a coroner found.

DIED WHILE WAITING: A 69-year-old man who was incarcerated in a Pennsylvania prison died of COVID-19 on Saturday, as he awaited Gov. Tom Wolf's sign off on his commutation, The Inquirer reports. The Board of Pardons in December recommended Bruce Norris' release after serving 45 years in prison.

TRUMP'S DEFENSE: One of the two men who will defend former President Donald Trump during his impeachment trial is ex-Montgomery County DA Bruce Castor. As the Washington Post reports, Castor not only declined to prosecute Bill Cosby on rape charges, he claimed that an agreement he made with the defense prevented anyone in his office from ever doing so. Here's what else you need to know about Castor.
PUBLIC TRIBUTES: Though the vast majority are named after white men, school buildings in Philadelphia serve as a tribute to the city's Black history. Ethel D. Allen School, for example, is named for the first Black woman to serve on city council, while Hill-Freedman World Academy honors a beloved educator at Cheyney University.

A 'TRAILBLAZER': Jamie Tarses, a Pittsburgh native who became the first woman to run a network entertainment division, died Monday at age 56. She was instrumental in development of the hit shows "Friends" and "Frasier" at NBC before becoming president of ABC Entertainment at 32.

MAIL BALLOT PSA: If you get an application for a mail ballot in the near future, don't panic: You probably signed up to automatically receive one each year. Remember, it's just an application — not an actual ballot — and it doesn't mean you can't vote in person. 

MAN'S BEST FRIENDS: Dogs — is there anything they can't do? For Budhi Blair, a Navy veteran in York County with PTSD, pups have played a critical role in his survival through life's challenges

IMPORTANT CORRECTION: I want to apologize for messing up how Punxsutawney Phil's predictions work in Monday's PA Post. Because it will be cloudy and snowy today, the groundhog is less likely to see his shadow which means an early spring — not more winter, as I wrote. As penance, I personally am going to live in a burrow until 2022. 
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Yesterday's answer: Containment   

Congrats to our daily winners: George S., Jill G., Susan D., Neal W., Christopher R., Craig W., Bill C., Ron P., Mary Ellen T., Carol D., Kim C., David I.. Irene R., John C., Dianne K., Jessica K., David W.,  Anne R., Suzanne S., and Beth T.
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