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Voter fraud charges and faulty ballot instructions


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
May 6, 2021
Diversity and inclusion, eviction ruling, migrant detention, mail-in mistake, kitchen staff, fraudulent votes, and LGBTQ tenants rights. It's Thursday.

Pennsylvania’s public university system has adopted a framework for addressing racism and inequality on campus after a push by students of color who say they often feel unsafe and overlooked, Spotlight PA reports.

In a unanimous April 15 vote, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's Board of Governors approved a set of priorities for tackling the issues across 14 state schools. The stated goals include doing more to retain and recruit students and faculty of color.

The strategy is big on promises but light on specifics, and students who inspired the pledge say while heartened by the board's commitment, they expect to see results.

THE CONTEXT: The move follows a concerted push by students of color and state Sen. Art Haywood (D., Philadelphia), who said he was inspired to act by Spotlight PA reporting on discrimination and bias faced by state university students.

The move also comes as the state system faces a $52 million deficit and a major redesign meant to ease that financial pressure. 

Haywood said the state legislature has an opportunity within that redesign process to put more money behind system-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion measures. Whether that's likely to happen or not remains unclear. 

In the meantime, students like Zuri Redmond of East Stroudsburg University are watching closely to see how university leaders follow through on their own. 

“I was shocked in a good way," Redmond said of the April 15 board vote. "I’ll be more satisfied once everything is in place.”

PUT US OVER THE TOP: We’ve been challenged to raise $15,000 to prove how much Pennsylvanians want the hard-hitting, nonpartisan investigative journalism that Spotlight PA produces like no one else.

There is no better time to support Spotlight PA than now, because for a limited time, every contribution will be DOUBLED thanks to a generous matching gift from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

If you're a fan of PA Post, will you pay it forward and support Spotlight PA's vital journalism today? Contribute now »»

» THANK YOU to the 64 people who contributed to our spring membership drive yesterday.

"I'm your worst nightmare. You made a mistake a long time ago." 

—Philadelphia DA candidate Carlos Vega to incumbent DA Larry Krasner in a hot mic moment overheard after last night's debate between the two

VACCINE UPDATE: Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services has launched a specialized vaccine hotline for Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities or autism and their caregivers. A Jefferson Health study identified intellectual disability as the biggest risk factor for COVID-19 mortality after age. For vaccine providers, check Spotlight PA's map and county-by-county listing.
» BE PREPARED: Everyone — regardless of political affiliation — can vote May 18 on four ballot questions. Here's a breakdown of each one. Plus, WHYY has a great primer on the appellate court judge candidates. We'll have more resources in the days and weeks ahead.
Thanks, Dorene M., for this shot of Wolf Rocks Trail in Rector. Another Pennsylvania gem to add to your summer hiking list! Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us at @spotlightpennsylvania.
EVICTION THAW: A federal eviction freeze has been struck down by a federal judge who says the CDC overstepped its authority with the pandemic-inspired measure, Reuters reports. Biden's DOJ is appealing the decision and is seeking an emergency stay of the order. Meanwhile, local bans remain in some places and Pennsylvania is accepting applications for a new round of rent relief.

WOMEN ONLY: Berks County officials support turning a contested migrant detention center into a women-only facility, according to a letter sent to ICE and obtained by the Reading Eagle. Officials initially refused to release the letter but were ordered to do so by Pennsylvania's Office of Open Records on Wednesday.

BAD INFO: As many as 2,700 Lancaster County voters received mail ballots that incorrectly say no return postage is needed. To be clear: Unlike November, Lancaster County voters are required to provide their own postage to mail in their ballot this time, LancasterOnline reports. Voters can avoid postage costs by dropping their ballot off in person.

'FRIGHTFUL' CONDITIONS: Kitchen staff at Allegheny County Jail have spent the past year contending with COVID-19 outbreaks, quarantines, "frightful" and unsanitary conditions, and workers walking off the job, Pittsburgh Current reports. Staffers say the kitchen became a vector for disease in the pandemic because of oversight failures. 

FRAUD FINDS: Two Pennsylvanians are facing voter fraud charges after trying to use their dead mothers' names to cast ballots in November's election, the AP reports. The news comes days after a Delaware County man was sentenced to five years probation for using his dead mother's name to cast a ballot for then-President Donald Trump.
HELP WANTED: A new work-assistance program for people experiencing homelessness has launched in Philadelphia with skills training, job placement, SEPTA passes, and paid childcare. Kensington Voice has more details

BURN BOOK: A small Pittsburgh bookstore says it was ghosted by a real estate developer for a large chain, and its "cautionary tale" has reignited a citywide debate and prompted an outpouring of support, via WESA.

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Pride Month is just around the corner and The Inquirer has a useful guide to federal, state, and local housing protections for LGBTQ people. Included in the mix: what to do if you're a victim of housing discrimination.

BEER ME: New Jersey is offering a free beer to anyone 21 and older who gets their first vaccine shot this month. There are 34 breweries participating in the aptly named "Shot and a Beer" program. NJ.com has the full list.

SIGNING OFF: Pittsburgh author Damon Young is leaving the influential blog he founded 10 years ago, telling City Paper of his Very Smart Brothas departure, "I felt like I'd gone as far with that form and that format as I can." 
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: Amoeba

Congrats to our daily winners: Mary Ellen T., Ben S., Michelle T., Mike B., Craig W., Susan D., Dixie S., Neal W., Tim F., Irene R., Tracey C., Kevin M., Christine M., Bruce B., Joel S., John K., Becky C., David I., Heidi B., Mark O., Bob R., Kim C., Al M., Vince C., Doris T., Mark C., Guy M., Kevin H., Bill C., Patricia M., David S., Elaine C., Jill A., Anna T., Theresa T., Brian B., Meg M., Carol D., Elizabeth W., Mike B., Paul H., Joyce O., Luke E., Don H., Mary Kay M., Karen W., Lex M., Patricia R., Barbara G., Bruce B., Diane P., Alice B., Myles M., Karen A., Joan S., Chris L., George S., Chris M., Clair M., Laura B., Doris B., Bette G., Janet C., Dennis M., Beth T., Tina P., Theodore W., David W., W. Lee W., Jill K., Hugh B., Suzanne S., James B., Daniel M., Richard D., Clayt O., Cynthia P., George C., Johnny C., Dianne K., John A., Sue B., Tish M., Janet M., Fred O., Barbara J., Ed R., Kirk B., Perry H., Christine M., Heather D., John H., Bruce T., Hugh B., Ann and John P., and Carl K.
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