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Data problem delays State Police racial bias report

Plus, a major shift in Pa. medical malpractice rules.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
August 26, 2022
PROPERTY TAX REBATE: Did you or someone you know get a property tax or rent rebate from the state in recent years and learn you no longer qualify? We want to hear from you. Your stories will fuel our reporting on the steady decline in the number of households getting help from a lottery-funded program that's meant to help older or disabled Pennsylvanians with housing costs. Reach out to Spotlight PA reporter Charlotte Keith at ckeith@spotlightpa.org.
Data delay, top honors, malpractice move, House flippers, compare and contrast, signs of faith, and Pa.'s 'first space museum.' It's Friday.
A data problem has delayed the release of a much-anticipated racial breakdown of traffic stops by Pennsylvania State Police. 

Spotlight PA reports this was the first time new information could have been available in more than a decade, offering a window into the ways in which one of the largest police forces in the country engages motorists.

Officials say while the "data reliability and validation" issues within the analysis have been corrected, the report won't be ready as expected. 

Read Spotlight PA's full dispatch on the delay here.

THE CONTEXT: State Police spokesperson Lt. Adam Reed would not further explain the data problems but said a forthcoming report will.

State Police will also publish an examination of data collected during the first quarter of 2022, Reed added. Asked if the department had a timeline for finalizing those reports, Reed said only: "No."

State Police announced in 2021 that they would partner with the University of Cincinnati Center for Police Research and Policy to conduct an independent analysis of the department's traffic stop data.

The move followed Spotlight PA reporting that revealed the department had quietly stopped collecting racial data from traffic stops in 2012.

"Students shouldn't be leveraged as an extremist talking point disguised as a so-called effort to 'protect' children."

—Elizabeth Rementer, press secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf, dismissing calls from GOP lawmakers to investigate explicit books in public school libraries

It gives us great pleasure to share that we have been selected as finalists in multiple categories for the national 2022 Nonprofit News Awards by the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), among the most prestigious in the industry.

Best Investigative Journalism Award (large division)

Game-Changer Award Emerging Leader of the Year
  • Christopher Baxter, Executive Director, Spotlight PA
These impactful stories — a $19 million unemployment error coverup, exposing how the legislature spends millions of dollars on itself and makes it hard for the public to track, and our unmatched redistricting coverage — would never have happened without Spotlight PA. Our work isn’t just resonating here in Pennsylvania, but also setting a standard for newsrooms like ours across the country.

And this work can only continue with your support. Make a gift of any amount now in celebration of these honors, and help power some of the most important reporting in Pennsylvania.

Thank you!
Nick Beiling, Spotlight PA Membership Manager
Rocky in Philly, via @lora_exploresSend us your photos and art, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
MAJOR SHIFT: A two-decade-old rule that required medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania to be filed in the county where the alleged harm occurred was reversed by the state's highest court on Thursday. Spotlight PA reports that while the ruling could help victims, opponents fear the cost. The change takes effect in January and follows a bitter fight between competing interests in the case.

ELECTION ODDS: On the heels of a redistricting process that yielded a more competitive map, Democrats think this year is their best chance to take control of the Pennsylvania House in a decade. The Inquirer (paywall) reports the campaign arm for House Democrats is targeting 14 districts where President Joe Biden won the majority in 2020, and almost all are in the suburbs. But sizable hurdles remain.

SCHOOL LINES: GOP nominee for governor Doug Mastriano wants sharp cuts in education funding that have educators and advocates, including the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, alarmed. But how do the approaches between the two candidates — Mastriano and Democrat Josh Shapiro — really differ? WHYY explains on everything from funding to parental input

FAITH VOTERS: Doug Mastriano is not without his evangelical supporters, far from it: His primary night victory party featured an evangelical worship service. But a progressive evangelical group, Vote for Common Good, has rolled out a billboard campaign in Pennsylvania aimed at urging members of the faith to withdraw their support of the gubernatorial nominee, PennLive reports.

GUILTY VERDICTS: A former teacher from Shaler and two other men were convicted this week of attacking a police line during the U.S. Capitol riot, per TribLIVE. All of the charges are felonies. In related news: A Pennsylvania teacher is suing his former employer, the Allentown School District, saying it falsely linked him to the attack despite him never being charged or anywhere near the building that day.

HAZING STOP: Middletown Area School District has cancelled its upcoming high school football season after second video of a suspected hazing incident involving members of the team surfaced, per Fox43.

GOOD GAME: It was a good run, but the Hollidaysburg team was bounced from the Little League World Series in Williamsport on Wednesday, PennLive reports. The tournament continues through Sunday.

RESCUE YINZERS: City Paper reports the race is on to catch a guinea pig — likely an abandoned pet — that's been seen living in the wild in Pittsburgh before the seasons change and the weather turns.

WATER SWING: Weeks after drawing headlines for its bone-chilling temps, the water at the Jersey Shore hit a record high on Tuesday. The Inquirer (paywall) says the swing has everything to do with the wind.

NEW MOON: Pennsylvania's "first space museum" has an opening date. The Moonshot Museum on Pittsburgh's North Side is scheduled to open its doors to the public on Oct. 15, per TribLIVE. Here's a preview.

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 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

*Bonus: Guess this week's theme today for an extra chance at swag. Reminder: The winning words this week so far have been: secondhand, vintage, haggling, and...
Yesterday's answer: Rummage

Congrats to our daily winners: Becky C., Craig W., Michelle T., Mark O., Elaine C., Tom O., Skip R., Marty M., Ted W., John V., Kathy F., Patricia M., Al M., Bruce B., Joyce O., Kim C., Don H., David S., Susan D., Susan N.-Z., Judy M., Laura H., Jude M., Starr B., Judith D., Catherine B., Barbara F., John F., Edward R., Nancy S., Karen W., Daniel M., Stephen G., Kimberly D., Debra H., George S., Bessie R., Michael S., Stanley J., Renee and Peter J., Steve D., Diane P., Mike B., Steve D., Jim A., Martin S., Chuck M., James B., John A., Rick A., Bill S., Myles M., Doug W., Kevin M., Wendy A., Fred H., Sue B.-W., Johnny C., Suzanne S., David W., Skip B., Sharon P., Brian B., Steve H., Jane R., Joel S., Lex M., and Becca S.


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