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Your Postmaster: Spotlight PA Staff
December 24, 2021
Mask opinion, civil suits, foreclosure help, jobless woes, DA troubles, and a high-pitched Christmas tradition in York. It's Friday. Happy holidays. 
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Dear reader, 

We're so close: Two generous local donors and Spotlight PA members, Jim Friedlich and Melissa Stern, have pledged $10,000 to encourage you to join them and make a gift to Spotlight PA before Dec. 31.

If you donate now, they will match your gift, dollar-for-dollar.

We have just $7,000 until we hit our goal.

As a reader, you know how important Spotlight PA’s coverage is to upholding democracy in our state. I hope those of you who are still on the fence will make a donation today to ensure this work continues.

Spotlight PA is in the final stretch of its most important membership drive of the year, and every dollar counts. Please give now.

Onwards together,

—Christopher Baxter, Editor in Chief
NO EMERGENCY
NOTABLE / QUOTABLE

"It defies reason that outside interests should be permitted to control or influence purely local affairs."

—Pittsburgh assistant city solicitor Emily McNally, arguing that an Italian-American group has no right to challenge a Columbus statue removal
CHALLENGE EXTENDED
Two generous local donors just extended our challenge. Jim Friedlich and Melissa Stern believe so strongly in Spotlight PA's mission, they've just pledged an additional $10,000 in matching dollars. That means they will match every dollar you give before Dec. 31. Contribute now.
💉 COVID-19 NEWS
» HELP NEEDED: The Meadville Medical Center in northwest Pennsylvania took out a full-page ad in a newspaper to plead with people to get vaccinated. The hospital is struggling to deal with the surge.

» SURGE PROBLEMS: An official from Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre talked to NPR about how a flood of COVID-19 patients is straining staff.

» MORE RELIEF: The FDA has approved a second pill, this one from Merck, to treat COVID-19.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
 
📅 UPCOMING EVENTS
» MAPPING POWER: Join us Thursday, Jan. 6 at noon EST for a free panel on the proposed state House and Senate maps, how they could shift political power, and their potential impact on Pennsylvanians. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
 
📷 POST IT
"I loved the way these red leaves have puddled around this tree in my neighbor’s yard in Hellam Township," said PA Poster Chris M. Thanks! Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
DAILY RUNDOWN
GOV PLEA: Gov. Tom Wolf is calling on GOP leaders in the state Senate to take up a bill that would create a civil legal window for survivors of child sex abuse when the legislature returns in January, PennLive reports. His administration earlier this year bungled a proposed constitutional amendment with same goal.

HELP DELAYED: More than $350 million in federal funds will be made available to Pennsylvania to help prevent foreclosures, but WESA reports that it's not clear when homeowners will be able to apply for help.

PROBLEMS CONTINUE: Six months after Pennsylvania upgraded its online unemployment system, claimants say they're still having issues. WPXI was contacted by two dozen people who have waited months for compensation or have suffered from other issues.

WAR OF WORDS: Nicole Ziccarelli, Westmoreland County's next district attorney, told TribLIVE the prosecutor she beat is not assisting with her transition. Current DA John Peck denied that, saying he missed a call but did respond to a personal letter.

STAFF LOSS: More than 70 attorneys hired by Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner have left since he took office in 2018. The Inquirer spoke to current and former staff who said training is needed.
IN OTHER NEWS
SOUND OF MUSIC: Yesterday, I learned that York city considers playing Christmas music on a steam whistle a beloved tradition. I was truly unprepared for what I heard.

PERMISSION GRANTED: Gov. Tom Wolf has cleared Santa and his nine reindeer (who conveniently were available for a photo op at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane this week) for takeoff. 

DIEHARD FAN: Pittsburgh's NPR station, WESA, issued a very important correction via Twitter yesterday: "@wesakevin just said on the air that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie. He is incorrect. We regret the error."

POPULAR PEAR: Pennsylvania is banning the Callery pear tree — also known as the Bradford pear, Cleveland pear, and flowering pear. It may be pretty but it also crowds out other plants and disrupts native ecosystems.

WINNER WINNER: The Amundson family won three of the five categories during this year's Butter Up! Butter Sculpture Competition. They're still in the process of eating one of the winning entries (a boot). 
THE SCRAMBLER
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.
 
E I O U C R E N O M S
 
Wednesday's answer: Toboggan

Congrats to our daily winners: Susan F., Bonnie R., David I., Susan N.-Z., btfoos, Al M., George S., Vicki U., Becky C., Michelle T., Patricia M., John C., Daniel M., Don H., Mike B., Chris M., Elaine C., Doris T., Ronnee G., Neal W., Craig E., Ted W., Diane P., Susan D., Karen W., Kate P., Bruce T., Wendy A., Ann and John, Joanne C., jemccarthy7, Myles M., Brian P., Elizabeth W., Irene R., Dianne K., Kimberly S., Bill S., Kim C., David W., Brandie K., Craig W., and Ann E.
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