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Contested Pa. immigrant detention center to close

Plus, a key state House special election gets a date.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
December 1, 2022
Race call, closing time, final counts, Dimock pleas, new management, 'broken system,' and a 96-year-old Navy man plugs in. It's Thursday and December.

The special election to replace late state Rep. Tony DeLuca, who was posthumously reelected in last month's midterm, has been set for Feb. 7.

The open seat is one of several that could complicate Democrats' incoming — and narrow — state House majority, the party's first since 2010. 

It could also complicate the nomination of state Rep. Joanna McClinton (D., Philadelphia) as the chamber's next speaker, potentially forcing Democrats to wrangle Republican votes to reach the necessary majority.

The special election for DeLuca's seat was set by House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) on Wednesday, the last day of the session. 

That prompted McClinton — who agrees with the choice of date — to challenge his authority to do so as "soon to be former Speaker."

Spotlight PA's Stephen Caruso has a thread on the dispute, the stakes, and one Republican who might be eyeing the Democrat-friendly seat.

THE CONTEXT: DeLuca, a Democrat, was the longest serving member of the state House at the time of his death in October. 

With ballots already printed and weeks to go before Election Day, state law stipulated it was too late to replace him with another candidate

So his name stayed on the ballot and he won the Democrat-heavy Allegheny County district over a third-party challenger with 86% of the vote.

As Spotlight PA reported, this and two other open Democratic seats have set the stage for a messy start for Democratic control of the House.

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“Money is only a portion of it. People have to be willing to relocate, they have to be willing to uproot their lives for a new environment..."

—Philadelphia police Capt. Tyrell McCoy on D.C.'s efforts to lure police to that city with $20K signing bonuses amid an ongoing officer shortage in Philly
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A Victoria crowned pigeon at Pittsburgh's National Aviary, via Kimberly D. Have a cool image or artwork to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania

An ornate bird — the Victoria crowned pigeon — perched on a fence in Pittsburgh's National Aviary.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.SHUT DOWN: WITF reports that Berks County's immigration detention center will close early next year. Federal authorities informed local officials that a contract won't be renewed. The 96-bed facility has been used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to confine migrant families. Activists who have long criticized the center celebrated Wednesday's news of its pending closure.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.TAKE TWO: Luzerne County has certified its election results following Monday's board of elections deadlock and a resulting lawsuit. The three Democrats on the election board voted to certify the results Wednesday, while two Republican members did not. Several other counties — namely Allegheny and Berks — have delayed or limited certifications amid scattered recount requests.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.DIMOCK DEAL: An oil and gas driller has pleaded no contest to criminal charges, including nine felonies, related to pollution in Dimock, Susquehanna County, that left residents with undrinkable and flammable water. Coterra Energy Inc., formerly Cabot Oil and Gas, agreed to pay $16.29 million for the construction of a new public water supply and to cover water bills for 75 years, StateImpact reports.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.MYSTERY MANAGER: A new company is being brought in to manage 38 Pennsylvania nursing homes as the facilities transition to new owners. But the company, Integra Health, is unknown in the world of nursing homes, even to industry veterans, The Inquirer (paywall) reports, and that's raising logistical questions for patients and families at a time when regulators want more transparency from the industry.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.JOBLESS JAMS: The problems with Pennsylvania's unemployment system were laid bare by the pandemic. And while the unemployment rate is down, problems persist. A new report by a progressive think tank found nearly half of claimants had waited more than 10 weeks for their first check as of last month. Advocates want Democratic Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro to fix it, and they're offering up an action plan.
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BIG BUSINESS: The Wharton School at UPenn will start offering majors in diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as environmental, social, and governance factors for business next fall, part of what The Times (paywall) calls a "rethinking" of capitalism in its most devoted bastions.

LAW SCHOOL: PennLive reports Penn State wants to combine its two law schools into one Carlisle location. Carlisle welcomed the news, while law students who found out right before finals had questions.

FINAL CUT: For eight years, outgoing Gov. Tom Wolf has joined a Pittsburgh radio station every other Tuesday for a live Q&A. He did his last one this week, reflecting on his tenure, the political climate, the midterms, and more

GO WEST: Sheetz is branching out again. The Altoona-based gas station and convenience store chain is adding an outpost near Detroit, Michigan, with more likely to follow. The company already has stores in Ohio.

VR VET: Ninety-six-year-old Navy veteran John Wolfe lives in a York County retirement community and uses a virtual reality headset to travel the globe from his chair, York Dispatch reports. "This is mind-boggling," he said.

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.

Yesterday's answer: Eloquent

Congrats to our daily winners: Rick L., John P., Bette G., Michelle T., Wendy A., Barbara F., Susan D., Mike B., Bruce B., Chris M., Chuck M., Becky C., Jon W., Kimberly D., Starr B., Kathy B., Eddy Z., Craig W., Don H., Deb N., Mark O., Brian B., Irene R., Kim C., George S., Joan S., Susan N.-Z., Ted W., Keith F., Stanley J., Dianne K., David S., Anne B., Sandy S., Elaine C., Bill S., Doug W., Jane R., Vicki U., Frederick H., James H., Judith D., Elizabeth W., John A., Patricia M., and David W.
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