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GOP backer now wants Pa. House speaker to resign

Plus, Josh Shapiro announces new cabinet picks.


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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
Shapiro appointees, friendly fire, plane travel, Lycoming recount, newspaper business, fixer-uppers, and a little Poconos hot-tub history.  

Democratic Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro has announced his picks to head up the state's departments of education and labor and industry.

Khalid Mumin, a former school superintendent of the year, will be nominated for secretary of education after Shapiro is inaugurated Jan. 17.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Nancy Walker will serve as labor and industry secretary, and Department of Community and Economic Development Acting Secretary Neil Weaver will serve as Shapiro's secretary of administration — the only position of the three not requiring Senate confirmation.

THE CONTEXT: Mumin will take on the secretary of education role amid intense scrutiny of Pennsylvania's school funding inequities, which have prompted a landmark and ongoing legal case

He'll oversee the state's Department of Education, which distributes more than $20 billion in federal and state taxpayer dollars.

Walker, meanwhile, will head the state's Department of Labor and Industry, which oversees Pennsylvania's unemployment system — an emblem of bureaucratic dysfunction during the COVID-19 pandemic and one that advocates say remains plagued by issues, including long waits. 

As Spotlight PA and Votebeat reported, Shapiro will also name Republican Al Schmidt — who experienced death threats after standing up to 2020 voter fraud conspiracies — as Pennsylvania's next elections chief.


"We don't use that here."

—State Sen. Cris Dush (R., Jefferson), the new chair of the chamber's state government committee, ruling a Democratic member out of order for referring to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol as an insurrection 
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» BROKEN BOROUGHS: Join us Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. EST on Zoom for a free panel on Pennsylvania’s local governments and how their oversight — or lack thereof — impacts residents and governance. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

The Rockville Bridge "floats" over the Susquehanna. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

Low fog makes it look like a bridge is floating above the water.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.HEATED HOUSE: State Rep. Jim Gregory (R., Blair) is calling on state Rep. Mark Rozzi to resign as Pennsylvania House speaker one week after nominating him for the role. In a letter first obtained by Spotlight PA, Gregory says Rozzi told him this weekend that he was only "thinking about switching" from Democrat to independent. Rozzi vowed to be an independent speaker, securing a crucial share of GOP support. Gregory's letter says the trust between them is "broken."

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.SKY MILES: How did outgoing Gov. Tom Wolf's use of a taxpayer-funded airplane — one that's made available to the governor and other state officials — rate? PennLive (paywall) reports his annual plane use was "generally on par or far less" than that of his predecessors, totaling 256 flights at a total cost of nearly $642,000 since 2015. "It takes a long time to drive to Pittsburgh or Erie from here," Wolf said.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.2020 RECOUNT: Roughly 10 teams of two people — a reader and recorder — began work on Lycoming County's recount of 2020 presidential and state auditor ballots Monday. Votebeat's Carter Walker was there and shared updates on Twitter. The $50,000 taxpayer-funded recount was launched under pressure from a voter fraud conspiracy group and against the advice of the county's election director

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.NEW OWNERS: NEXTpittsburgh columnist Andrew Conte has new details on the sale of Pittsburgh's alt-weekly newspaper, City Paper, to the owners of the Post-Gazette, where a strike has entered its third month. City Paper's former owners at the Butler Eagle say the sale "saved" the alt-weekly from a potential closing, but City Paper's former top editor worries its independent voice could suffer.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.SAFER BLOCKS: A UPenn-Columbia University study looked at 258 abandoned Philadelphia houses and found evidence that fighting blight correlates with a reduction in gun violence, via WHYY. Researchers performed various levels of repairs to the homes or no repairs at all and found that the areas where the most work was done saw a 13% drop in gun assaults compared to nearby blocks.
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PUBLIC APPEARANCE: Ahead of another expected run for U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Republican David McCormick was shaking hands at the Pennsylvania Farm Show on Monday, per Politico's Holly Otterbein.

WRONGLY DENIED: Capital Blue Cross has been fined by the state of Pennsylvania and ordered to pay back customers for wrongly denied claims following an "Affordable Care Act market conduct exam," per ABC27.

COUNTY FIRST: A former attorney and public defender is Northumberland County's first female president judge, the Daily Item reports. Paige Rosini will use the same courtroom as her father, the late judge Jim Rosini.

SUPER-SIZED: The Onion writes "Fetterman Struggling To Adapt To Size Of Capitol Building" alongside an image of Pennsylvania's new 6-foot-8-inch U.S. senator literally squeezing through the halls of Congress.

TUB TOK: The TikToker behind a massively viral hot-tub explainer from the Poconos has a quick history lesson on the creator of the champagne glass-shaped variety and the importance of a good patent lawyer.

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: Palatial

Congrats to our daily winners: Michelle T., Craig W., Becky C., Eddy Z., Michael P., Starr B., Al M., Yvette R., Kevin M., Mike B., Kim C., Kimberly D., Frederick H., Ted W., Susan D., Chuck M., Brian B., Bruce B., Jane R., Jodi R., Patricia M., Jon W., Wendy A., Don H., Charlotte B., Myles M., John F., Judith D., Bruce B., Stanley J., Moon M., Dennis M., Nancy S., Barbara F., John H., Dianne K., Joel S., Bill S., Ben P., James B., Vicki U., Margaret Mary H., John P., Elaine C., John B., Susan N.-Z., Judi R., Sherri A., Marty M., Alice B., Ronnee G., David W., and Vanessa J.
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