A daily newsletter by
Sorely disappointed, conspiracy case, parent trap, mystery flights, traffic breaks, limited choice, and weird things dropping on New Year's Eve. It's Wednesday.
Dear reader, The home stretch: With just three days left in 2021, we're within striking distance of raising a massive $100,000 in support of Spotlight PA's vital journalism. If you've been putting off your contribution, . make one now Thousands of Pennsylvanians have stepped forward to support Spotlight PA's investigative and public-service reporting because they know it's vital to upholding democracy in our state. Why not join them right now? I hope those of you who are still on the fence will to ensure this work continues. make a donation today 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
Advocates who saw an opening in the ongoing redistricting process to make state legislative maps that better reflect and empower Pennsylvania's growing Latino population tell the Associated Press they're sorely disappointed thus far. While new state House and state Senate maps drafted by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission include eight "minority opportunity" districts between them, advocates worry the proposals would actually narrow Latino opportunity by shrinking existing Latino majorities in certain s trongholds. Census data confirm that Pennsylvania's Latino population grew by 43% over the past decade to more than 1 million people, but Pennsylvania's 253-person state legislature only has four Latino members, accounting for less than 2% of the total. Victor Martinez, an Allentown-based broadcaster, told Spotlight PA and Votebeat in November about his hopes for more proportionate political power through redistricting. Now he tells the AP he hopes changes are made before the Legislative Reapportionment Commission's maps are finalized. RELATED COVERAGE: Reading, Pennsylvania is the backdrop for a Wall Street Journal story about "Hispanic voters shifting toward the GOP," with the paper noting that while former President Donald Trump won just 27% of the city's vote in 2020, that was nearly 8 points higher than what he earned four years prior. The Journal says the movement is reflective of a nationwide trend with uncertain implications for Democrats ahead of next year's midterms. On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf came out against a proposed update of Pennsylvania's U.S. congressional map — the product of a parallel redistricting process — that will guide those pivotal midterm contests for seats in the U.S. House. Wolf did not explicitly say whether he would veto the map if it reaches his desk. Correction: Tuesday's edition incorrectly stated Gov. Tom Wolf's role in the redistricting process for Pennsylvania's state House map. Wolf has final say over the U.S. House map proposal, while the bipartisan Legislative Reapportionment Commission has exclusive authority over state House and state Senate options.
The final challenge has been issued, and with just three days left, we're within striking distance of raising a massive $100,000 in support of Spotlight PA's vital journalism. That's enough money to pay for one reporting position for an entire year. Help us end the year strong by making a tax-deductible gift now.
» QUARANTINE CUT: The CDC now recommends that people who test positive for COVID-19 isolate for five days instead of 10 if they're asymptomatic, NPR reports. » TEST RUN: With testing resources remaining scarce, Philadelphia is telling people with symptoms to act like they're positive, per WHYY. » TEST SITES: Today is the last day for free COVID-19 testing at state-run sites in Berks, Blair, Centre, Clinton, and Luzerne counties. Find more info here. » STRIKE TEAMS: Hard-hit Pennsylvania hospitals will receive "strike teams" via the federal government to help alleviate capacity strain, WGAL reports. 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).
» 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
A telephonic time machine and history lesson, as spotted at Bill's Bike Barn in Bloomsburg by @lora_explores. Thanks for sharing! Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
SIEGE CASE: The First Amendment does not shield the head of the Philadelphia Proud Boys from criminal prosecution for his alleged role in the U.S. Capitol siege, a federal judge has ruled. "Even if the charged conduct had some expressive aspect, it lost whatever First Amendment protection it may have had," U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said. Zach Rehl of Port Richmond is one of four leaders of the far-right group under indictment. UNSAFE SPACES: Hundreds of Philadelphia parents have had to patch together alternative visit and custody-exchange plans with the ongoing closure of a supervised family court space — a situation that advocates say puts survivors of domestic abuse in jeopardy without law enforcement present. While the family court space was far from perfect, advocates told The Inquirer the closure has revealed how much worse things could get. NEW ARRIVALS: ICE denies it was behind a series of chartered flights that carried child migrants into Scranton four times this month — including twice on Christmas. An ICE spokesperson told the Times-Tribune another government agency may have been responsible. The airport's fixed-base operator — an entity that typically handles non-commercial flights — says passengers from at least one of the flights were bound for New York City. POLICE STOPS: Pittsburgh's City Council has approved a bill banning traffic stops for secondary violations involving headlights , brake lights, and license plates in a bid to prevent violent interactions with police, TribLIVE reports. The legislation is set to take effect in 120 days. Public comments heard before Tuesday's vote took issue with the timing, the data, and the reach of the measure. Philadelphia banned low-level stops in November. STATE OF THE STATE: "Even though Pennsylvania doesn't currently have a ban like Mississippi, it's still difficult to receive an abortion," Sara Dixon of Planned Parenthood told the Post-Gazette. The paper took a look at the current state of abortion access in Pennsylvania, finding 85% of counties have no clinics, 50% of women live in counties without clinics, and attempts to further restrict access continue in earnest inside the state Capitol.
THE OZ SHOW: A whirlwind New York Magazine profile of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz includes an eye-opening lede about conservative "carpetbagger" pushback and a section where Oz and his wife think they've hung up on the reporter but remain on the line during an animated exchange. BIG SCORE: The most interesting part of the Pittsburgh Penguins now sharing owners with the Boston Red Sox may not be LeBron James' s take but rather how a savvy 1999 decision by former Penguins player Mario Lemieux ultimately turned $26 million in deferred pay into a $350 million windfall, per Huddle Up. SWIM CLUB: A group of boxers from Scranton traveled all the way to New Hampshire to take the polar bear plunge this year, WMUR reports, and not because it's so unseasonably warm in Pennsylvania: They were raising money for a local charity that helps people get placed into sober living homes. COUNTDOWN: New Year's Eve is Friday, and USA Today's roundup of unusual municipal traditions includes Lebanon's bologna drop, Bethlehem's Peep drop, and Mechanicsburg's wrench drop — the latter a nod to the borough's settlers who made and fixed wagons for westbound travelers. BAT BITES: One Twitter user's viral delight at discovering "nature has evolved a bat that looks exactly like a jam doughnut" was directly inspired by an "extra floofy," almost sugar-coated member of the Pennsylvania Bat Rescue family.
Unscramble and send your answer to email@example.com. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
F E D B T E E M D U L N Yesterday's answer: Hierarchical Congrats to our daily winners: Susan F., Irene R., Vicki U. (double winner, left off Tuesday's list), Susan D., Don H., Bonnie R., Elaine C., Craig E., Neal W., Susan N., Kim C., Craig W., Doris T., Michelle T., Mike B., Alan V., Gary C., Kimberly S., David W., Myles M., Jill K., Becky C., and George S.