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The key court contests on Pa. ballots, explained

Plus, suspended Philly cop charged in fatal shooting.

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The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Tanisha Thomas

Monday, September 11, 2023
Election primers, criminal charges, party shift, alternative funding, state support, and 9/11 remembrance. Thanks for checking in.

Pennsylvanians will vote on the newest judge for Commonwealth Court and two for Superior Court on Nov. 7, and the stakes are significant.

The Commonwealth Court winner could have a hand in Pennsylvania's laws on everything from elections to firearms, while the two Superior Court seats will decide the outcomes of high-profile criminal cases and set precedents that influence everyone within the criminal justice system. 

Spotlight PA has everything you need to know about the candidates in a complete guide to the lower court races.

THE CONTEXT: Another key November contest in Pennsylvania will be between two candidates vying to be the newest state Supreme Court justice. Voters will choose between Democrat Daniel McCaffery and Republican Carolyn Carluccio. The high court's seven members often have the final word on cases covering election policy, abortion, and more.

There will be local judgeships on some ballots too. In Philadelphia, Judge Genece Brinkley, who controversially sentenced rapper Meek Mill to jail in 2017 for minor probation violations, became the latest to drop out of the Court of Common Pleas contest there, creating a third "magic seat" for the Democratic City Committee to fill, The Inquirer (paywall) reports.


“I think it’s at this point we call the trend, you know, three or four escapes in the past six, eight months right here in Pennsylvania.”
Former Corrections Secretary John Wetzel on recent prison escapes in Pennsylvania; here’s the latest on the search for Danelo Cavalcante
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
With a big election coming up and huge stakes in 2024, we can't afford a future in Pennsylvania without Spotlight PA. And we urgently need your help to make sure our vital investigative and public-service reporting can continue.

The first 500 gifts of any amount made during our Fall Member Drive will be DOUBLED by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. This is a huge opportunity to leverage your gift and unlock HUGE matching support for Spotlight PA.

A big thanks to those who have given so far, including Frances A., who said, "Robust journalism is essential for a strong democracy."

Join Frances & contribute now »
» CRIMINAL SOLUTION: Join Spotlight PA, the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and experts Thursday, Sept. 14, at 6-7:30 p.m. ET at Point Park University for a live discussion on how a Pennsylvania law traps people with mental health issues in jail. RSVP now; seating is limited. 

» STORY FEST: Spotlight PA is participating in Philly Story Fest, a first-of-its-kind festival that brings together storytellers from across the city on one stage. Join us Thursday, Oct. 5 from 7-10 p.m. at the Bok building in South Philadelphia (1901 South 9th St.). Tickets are $25 and available here.

» PATH TO EQUITY: Join Spotlight PA for its first in-person summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Spotlight PA is co-presenting this event with Color & Culture, a Pennsylvania marketing firm. Tickets are on sale at this link until sold out.
A still from James G.'s trail camera in the woods of Huntingdon County. Have a photo you'd like to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A deer is seen standing in thick woods, surrounded by ferns dappled with sunlight.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.CRIMINAL CHARGES: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced criminal charges against suspended Philadelphia police officer Mark Dial, who is accused of fatally shooting 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry Jr. in Kensington last month. WHYY reports the charges include murder, voluntary manslaughter, and aggravated assault. Dial, who turned himself in, was arrested on Friday and faces decades in prison.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
SPECIAL ELECTION: Allegheny County voters will decide control of the Pennsylvania House in a special election next week. Democrat Lindsay Powell will face Republican Erin Connolly Autenreith in the Sept. 19 contest to see who will replace Democratic state Rep. Sara Innamorato, who resigned in July. Allegheny County special elections cemented a Democratic majority in the chamber earlier this year.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
SCIENCE SHIFT: Politico Magazine reports doctors in states like Pennsylvania are turning away from the GOP amid cultural and economic shifts, diversifying medical schools, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The magazine says the national trend of Democratic voters occupying medical posts has been seen in places like former GOP stronghold Derry Township, with local and even national implications.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.MONEY SOURCES: Crisis pregnancy centers receive hefty donations from anonymous donors and religious organizations to keep them running, the reproductive and sexual health-focused news outlet Rewire reports, via Pittsburgh City Paper. That means Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s termination of millions in state funding for one of the groups behind the anti-abortion centers won’t shut them out entirely.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.MONEY MOVES: Penn State’s Board of Trustees will ask the state for more money next year, even as this year’s funding remains caught in legislative limbo. PennLive reports the board recently approved a request that would reel in a record-high $434.4 million next year from the state to support all of its entities. PennLive reports that's a 33% increase over the $363.3 million the school anticipates receiving this year.
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
9/11 MEMORIAL: The annual Heroes Walk at the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County featured an unveiling of new enhancements to the site’s Western Overlook this year. Today marks 22 years since the 9/11 attacks. A Shanksville ceremony will take place at 9:50 a.m. Watch live here.

LEAKED EMAILS: Democratic Philadelphia mayoral nominee Cherelle Parker’s team is facing heat after misdirected emails revealed tactics to delay interview requests with an independent media outlet. Billy Penn reports Parker called the actions “unacceptable.”

MR. YUK: Dr. Richard Moriarty, founder of the famous green Mr. Yuk, a character that taught generations of kids around the world to avoid ingesting poisons, died last week at the age of 83. TribLIVE reports Moriarty received hip replacement surgery 12 weeks prior and spent time in intensive care. 

FISH FOOD: Did you know the snack that smiles back is made in Pennsylvania? The Denver, Pennsylvania Goldfish cracker plant ranks second in total production. The Inquirer has the story and a video tour.

COSTLY FUN: Having fun has its costs at Hersheypark, according to a USA Today list ranking it one of the Top 100 Most Overpriced Attractions Worldwide, via FOX43. The park made it to No. 25. Do you agree?
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. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.
Yesterday's answer: Bifurcate

Congrats to our weekly winner: Richard A.

Congrats to our daily winners: Kimberly D., Dan A., Don H., Susan N.-Z., Barbara F., Eric F., Elaine C., Kerry L., Stacy S., Tracy S., Jon W., John E., Becky C., Dennis M., Susan D., David W., Jane R., Joel S., Tom M., Wendy A., James B., and Craig E.
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