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Why Shapiro's transition team is raising eyebrows

Plus, the Pa. House power struggle has its day in court.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Tricky transition, precinct maps, House battle, certification confirmed, gas tax, steel deal, Nerf arena, bail critics, and Santa's evil Lancaster twin.

Democratic Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro built a broad coalition in his successful campaign to become Pennsylvania's top public official, and his transition team reflects his varied and sometimes contentious alliances.

The assembly of almost 300 people includes lobbyists, activists, abolitionists, police advocates, and people who oppose funding public schools. Some of the transition team members have even been accused of committing or abetting sexual misconduct.

The selection offers a glimpse into the way the Democrat hopes to lead the commonwealth's divided government.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: What Josh Shapiro’s transition team says about how he’ll govern, and why some picks are raising eyebrows.

THE CONTEXT: Republicans maintained control of the state Senate in the November election, and the likely (but still unsettled) Democratic majority in the state House will be slim, so Shapiro's agenda will require brokering.

The members of the transition team will not necessarily be appointed to positions in Shapiro's cabinet, but their participation in the transition signals how the governor-elect might approach certain issues.

John McNesby, for instance, vocally advocates for police in his role as the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

His positions have frequently led to clashes with progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner, who has attempted to implement changes such as reducing pre-trial detention.

He might find a more sympathetic ear in Shapiro, who frequently interacted with law enforcement as state attorney general.

Shapiro will be sworn in next month.


"The kids were in the house complaining they didn’t have anything to do and going outside shooting Nerf guns and losing bullets. I kept thinking there has to be another way to do this."

—Business owner Sir Grey Fox on how he dreamed up Battle 5 Nerf Extraction Arena, a play facility opening next week in Dauphin County
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The last fall sunset of 2022, captured here by Charlie D. in Centre County. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.COURT DATE:  The legal fight to determine the dates for special elections to fill three Pennsylvania House seats heads to Commonwealth Court today. The suit, filed by Republican Bryan Cutler or Lancaster County, challenges the date set by Democrat Joanna McClinton (D., Philadelphia). The outcome of the case will affect the balance of power in the state House in the early months of the legislative session.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.VOTE VISUAL: The Inquirer has compiled and visualized statewide voter precinct data from the November general election. Precincts are the minuscule geographic units at which ballots are tabulated, so looking at them can provide granular insights about an election. An important warning though, as you peruse these maps: "Staring at a map of red and blue precincts can be misleading: Land doesn’t vote." 

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.ELECTION CERTIFIED: Bucks County's election board voted Tuesday to certify its November results, wrapping up a process that was protracted by recount requests. Recount petitions in at least 27 of the commonwealth's 67 counties have delayed certification for some legislative districts. Read this quick Rock the Vote explainer on election certification for a breakdown of the process.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.NEW DEAL: U.S. Steel and the United Steelworkers union ratified a four-year contract on behalf of over 10,000 members. The agreement covers 13 local unions at domestic flat-rolled facilities, mining sites, and tubular operations, including Mon Valley Works in Allegheny County.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.TAX TIME: Next year Pennsylvania's gas tax will go up due to a trigger in a 2013 state law that requires the levy to rise a few cents. WGAL reports a shipping industry group predicts that cost will likely get passed on to the consumer. The gas tax is a large contributor to state road and bridge projects.
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BERWICK CASE: A recent court filing in the case of the Berwick incident in which a driver drove into a crowd gathered at a fundraiser for fire victims indicates prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty

BAIL BREAK: A Philadelphia group that advocates for the end of cash bail is helping people get out of detention over the holidays

FILM FORUM: Pittsburgh's Stanton Heights now houses an entertainment space that's currently the set of an indie film about a killer contractor.

SCHOOL HOUSE: CNBC takes a look inside a Homestead high school that investors turned into a 31-unit apartment building.

BELSNICKEL: LNP revisits the Belsnickel, a Lancaster Christmastime character who punishes bad children and tosses treats at the feet of good kids. How ... jolly?

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.
U U F I A C R L N 

Monday's answer: Mouthfeel

Congrats to our daily winners: Beth T., Vicki U., John B., Myles M., Wendy A., Bill S., David W., Craig W., Dianne K., Kim C., Patricia M., Susan Z., George S., Don H., Kimberly B., Kimberly D., Jon W., Chuck M., Susan D., Btfoos, Elaine C., and Becky C.
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