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Child remains unearthed at Pa. reform school site


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
June 21, 2021
Audit opening, partial recall, data dumps, work search, end watch, closure cases, and banjo night strums again. It's Monday, let the week begin.
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The Pennsylvania state senator in charge of a key election committee is backing an audit of the November presidential contest similar to Arizona's partisan recount, four days after he was publicly called out by former President Donald Trump for not having done so already.

State Sen. David Argall (R., Schuylkill) told Spotlight PA in a live Q&A on Friday that he does not see the "damage in doing it one more time to try to answer the concerns that people have."

But such an effort, particularly if advanced by one political party, is sure to attract criticism and come with critical questions, including how much it would cost, who would pay for it, and why it would be any more trustworthy than the widely accepted audits already completed.

"The results are the results," Argall said Friday during Spotlight PA's Capitol Live event, when asked if he accepted November's results as legitimate. "The Electoral College has spoken, you know the president has been sworn in. I understand that's a reality."

THE CONTEXT: Argall's counterpart in the state House has rejected an additional audit, choosing instead to focus on pushing Republican-led election reform bills with contested measures, like tougher voter ID rules, that new polling shows have broad, if not bipartisan, public support.

But the Senate is able to order its own election review, and Argall's committee has the power to subpoena ballots.

County election and state officials, not to mention Trump's own attorney general, have repeatedly said there was no evidence of widespread fraud in Pennsylvania and that the results were accurate.

Despite those assurances, Pennsylvania continues to be the focus of false claims that the 2020 election was stolen — claims Trump is repeating while targeting lawmakers and continuing to yield immense power over the Republican Party and its base.
Our reporting has one purpose: to make Pennsylvania a better place.

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"It's not just the federal government and social media platforms that have a role to play in combating disinformation." 

—Former U.S. Attorney David Hickton on his new University of Pittsburgh lab dedicated to combating digital misinformation

VACCINE UPDATE: Pennsylvania and other states are struggling to find takers for more than 800,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses nearing expiration. The J&J shot's image suffered after it was linked to rare blood clots, but officials have since re-cleared it for public use. For vaccine providers, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX).
A rainbow over Venango County, as seen from Rockland Township. Thanks, @johnmcculloughphotography, for sharing. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
NO RECALL: State Republicans amended a Democrat-led bill that would have given voters across Pennsylvania the power to recall elected officials and changed it to apply only to the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia. Democrats called the move a cravenly political one, while a key Republican said the measure still has to clear multiple hurdles.

REMAINS RETURNED: The remains of ten Native American children who died more than a century ago at an infamous Carlisle boarding school are being disinterred and returned to their relatives, the AP reports. Archaeologists began work Saturday at a cemetery containing more than 180 graves at the former government-run boarding school site.

FARM HANDS: It's not just restaurants complaining they can't find enough workers to fill job openings, Pennsylvania's farms are, too. But while the Post-Gazette reports that's nothing new, farmers say the struggles have become more pronounced as pandemic shutdowns ease and other industries offer incentives they simply can't afford.

LONG ENDING: Pennsylvania is a week away from lifting its statewide mask rule and the symbolic end of the pandemic here. York Daily Record says the literal end is farther away and likely harder to pinpoint, writing, "the World Health Organization may announce the world has entered a post-pandemic phase, but it's not like someone will flip a switch." 

UPS AND DOWNS: Pennsylvania's rollout of a new unemployment computer system is affecting national unemployment data, which recently saw the highest level of new claims in six weeks. The reason? Pennsylvania's upgrade included a freeze on filings, which artificially lowered numbers now beginning to rebound, the Detroit Free Press reports.
NEW NAMESAKE: John Marshall, a singular force in the shaping of American constitutional law and one half of duo for which Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster is named, was an unrepentant slaveholder. A piece in The Atlantic calls on the country – and the institutions bearing Marshall's name — to "reevaluate this venerated figure in American history."

BOOM DOOM: Some Pennsylvania lawmakers are having buyer's remorse after legalizing recreational fireworks and receiving a wave of complaints from voters and probably their pets. State Rep. Robert Freeman (D., Northampton) wants to give municipalities more power to lower the boomies and stiffer penalties for the breakers of related state rules. But it's probably a longshot.

STREAMING MAD: Some Harrisburg residents are up in arms over Verizon's installation of 5G antennas in the city, saying the devices are unsightly and that they weren't properly notified, per PennLive. There's little they can do. While other cities passed laws limiting such equipment, Harrisburg did not.

LOST PET: Champ, the German Shepherd purchased from a troubled Chester County breeder by President Joe Biden in 2011, has died. Biden's White House announced Champ's death over the weekend, saying the 13-year-old "beloved" companion had died peacefully at home.

PICKING, GRINNING: Banjo night is back. Pittsburgh's vaunted North Side tradition returned to The Elks last Wednesday after a pandemic hiatus and will be there "every Wednesday onwards from 8-11PM!" Not sure what Banjo Night is? Local documentarian Willy James will show you.
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.

Friday's answer: Diversion

Congrats to our weekly winner: Eddy Z.

Congrats to our daily winners: Michelle T., Bob R., Craig W., Mary Ellen T., Mike B., Susan D., Irene R., Doris T., Wendy A., Barbara F., Becky C., Joel S., Al M., Bruce B., Barbara A., Steve D., Elizabeth W., Lil N., Heidi B., Dennis M., Elaine C., Kevin H., Neal W., Jill A., Brandie K., Christine M., Tish M., Don H., Suzette M., Theodore W., Michael D., James B., Laura B., Myles M., Diane P., Johnny C., Carol D., Karen W., Richard D., Dianne K., Jenn R., David I., Mary Kay M., John A., Meg M., Guy M., David W., Craig E., Marsha B., Beth T., Karen M., Ann and John P., and George S.
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