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Corruption arrest imperils a Pa. town merger

Plus, Pa. company accused of insurance 'redlining.'

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Your Postmasters: Colin Deppen & Tanisha Thomas

Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Cold feet, guardianship pitfalls, skill-game seizures, eviction hurdles, gun bills, insurance 'redlining,' and Womens Veterans Day. This is PA Post.

Sandy Township is asking a court to pause its voter-approved consolidation with the City of DuBois after the city's manager was arrested for stealing $600,000 in public funds. 

In a legal filing that cites Spotlight PA reporting, township officials argue that the sweeping fraud allegations against Herm Suplizio, one of DuBois' most politically connected government officials, and mounting questions about city oversight and ongoing investigations necessitate an intervention.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: A Pennsylvania town seeks to pause consolidation with its scandal-ridden neighbor city.

THE CONTEXT: A study conducted in 2021 by the Pennsylvania Economy League recommended that DuBois and Sandy Township consolidate, projecting lower property taxes and utility fees for most residents, as well as "improved long term regional financial health."

The study's financial analysis, foundational to voters' authorization of the consolidation, can no longer be relied upon, Sandy Township wrote in its complaint. The consolidation has a Jan. 5, 2026 deadline.

Pennsylvania law governing consolidation and mergers among municipalities does not address the situation facing Sandy Township and DuBois, said Scott Wyland, solicitor for Sandy Township. But he said the township believes the court has "an inherent power to step into this legal process and make corrections or adjustments to it." DuBois declined to comment. 

Read more: A DuBois official was arrested on corruption charges. Then nearly $100K in cash arrived at city hall.


"I realize everyone thinks that we have plenty of money for this year and we probably do. But my concern is years down the line."

State Rep. Jack Rader (R., Monroe) on tax cuts and credits advanced by House Democrats and headed for a floor vote; Democrats passed a state budget plan Monday with more spending than Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed

"Compromise is never easy, but we will continue to push for as broad a bill as possible on this issue that has a chance of passing in a divided legislature." 

State Rep. Dan Miller (D., Allegheny) in an email to PA Post on criticism of his paid family leave bill and a work history test included in the current draft
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A lion head fountain at McCoole's Arts & Events Place in Quakertown, Bucks County, via Don N. Have a photo to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A sculpted water fountain in the shape of a lion's head is seen on a wall.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.FLAWED SYSTEM: The Pennsylvania Senate's GOP-led Judiciary Committee advanced a bill on Tuesday that's meant to address some of the pitfalls with Pennsylvania's current guardianship system, as outlined in recent Spotlight PA reporting. The bipartisan bill, now headed for a full Senate vote, treats guardianship as a last resort and encourages judges, lawyers, and others to do the same.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.GAME STOPS: Law360 (paywall) reports the local arm of skill-game-maker Pace-O-Matic wants Pennsylvania authorities to stop seizing its machines until a statewide ruling in a case that could settle the issue of their legality is handed down, the company's attorney told an appellate court Tuesday. The machines occupy a legal grey area now, and have inspired no shortage of controversy, per Spotlight PA.Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.EVICTION FEES: It costs landlords more to file eviction cases in Pennsylvania than in many other states, according to new research by The Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which associates higher filing fees with lower eviction rates and beneficial effects for renters in majority-Black neighborhoods. The Lab says increasing the filing fee by $100 reduces the eviction filing rate by 2.25 percentage points.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.GUN BILLS: Democrats in the state Senate believe they have the votes to pass universal background check and red-flag bills that cleared the state House last month, PennLive reports, but it's unclear whether the upper chamber's GOP leadership will bring them up for a vote. House Dems are eyeing two more gun bills, including the reconsideration of one voted down in a rare floor failure weeks ago. Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D., Montgomery) said they're making "progress."

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.ERIE 'REDLINING': Pennsylvania-based Erie Insurance engaged in insurance "redlining" of predominantly Black neighborhoods in Baltimore, a Maryland regulatory agency has found. The Daily Record reports the Maryland Insurance Administration ruled in favor of several Baltimore-area insurance brokers that filed a complaint against the company. A broader "market conduct examination" is ongoing.
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FIRST TIME: Pennsylvania will recognize Womens Veterans Day on June 12, the first time the state has done so. At least 20 other states recognize the day including California, Michigan, New York, and Ohio. Pennsylvania has the fourth-largest veteran population in the country.

ROBO RECYCLING: A partnership between the Pittsburgh International Airport and CleanRobotics aims to make recycling easier by using artificial intelligence. TrashBot will help people passing through the airport determine whether an item is recyclable or not.

PHILLY MEETS THE PRESS: A Philly native will be the newest host of NBC’s Meet the Press. The network’s chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker will succeed host Chuck Todd. She will be the first Black journalist and the second woman to host the show.

CLEANER SLATE: The Pennsylvania House this week advanced a bill that would expand the kinds of criminal records that can be automatically sealed. The measure expands on the Clean Slate Law, passed in 2018.

SHORTAGE RALLY: The #PANeedsTeachers coalition held a rally at the Capitol on Tuesday to call attention to the plummeting supply of teachers in the state. According to a report from the group, "the state department of education reports fewer applicants per position across every subject area."

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 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Decadence

Congrats to our daily winners: Ted W., Becky C., Stacy S., Daniel M., Eric F., Lynne E., Michael T., Jane R., Eddy Z., Susan D., Jenette W., Bob C., Jodi R., Al M., Joel S., Judith D., Bruce B., Susan N.-Z., Karen W., Barbara F., Brandie K., Irene R., Marty M., Dana D., Julie K., Jon W., Vicki U., Elaine C., John F., James B., Jody A., Daniel S., Kevin M., Tish M., Craig W., Doug W., Don H., Elizabeth W., Dougie J., Dianne K., Elizabeth B., Susanne R., Chuck M., Dan A., Tom M., Kim C., William Z., Starr B., Richard A., Kimberly D., Stanley J., Lisa C., and Ada M.


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