Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

One Pa. plant fouled a water source for millions

Plus, Gov. Wolf vetoes GOP-backed congressional map.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
January 27, 2022
Dear reader,

Dozens of amendments to our state constitution are pending in the legislature that would forever reshape Pennsylvania. That's why we've launched a new, nonpartisan public-service initiative to raise awareness and education about what might be coming to your ballot.

Our 📜 Amendment Tracker allows you to see and search all proposed amendments in one place. And we want to make improvements to the design and add other features, such as email alerts as amendments progress and events in support of public awareness.

To do all of that and more, we need your help. If you value this kind of public-service journalism, please support the Amendment Tracker by making a gift now. We're seeking to raise $10,000 in support of this effort by the end of January. Contribute now.


Christopher Baxter, Spotlight PA editor
Water rescue, map veto, amendment tracker, PSERS pivot, family fees, school arrests, and a second life for underwear. It's Thursday. Welcome.
Want to see your message here? Contact us about sponsoring PA Post.


"I don't know that anybody had the idea he was under distress. People in the back of police cars yell and scream all the time."

—Patrick Thomassey, an attorney for one of the eight Pittsburgh police now undergoing disciplinary hearings over Jim Rogers' death in custody
» SUBVARIANT: A mutation of the omicron variant called BA.2 is now in several states, and while it doesn't appear to be more dangerous than original omicron, the WHO is urging further studies.

» WORK TRAVEL: Debbie Vandover is one of thousands of Pennsylvania nurses who left their jobs to work for better pay as traveling nurses amid the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. WITF shares her story.

» NO TEACHER: On some days, as many as 60% of Susquehanna Township School District classes don't have an instructor due to widespread absences and a dire substitute shortage. Here's how such schools are responding.

» FAST MONEY: Gov. Tom Wolf will sign fast-tracked legislation that authorizes $225 million to help hospitals stanch the effects of a widespread staffing crisis. Most of the money will bankroll retention and recruitment pay.

» DEATH COUNT: Even as new case numbers drop, Pennsylvania is averaging more daily COVID-19 deaths than at any point in the past year.

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).
» BACK IN SESSION: Today at 5 p.m. EST, join Spotlight PA and our panel of experts via Zoom as we look back on the 2021 legislative session and discuss what themes are likely to emerge — or persist — in 2022. RSVP for free here. Submit questions in advance to events@spotlightpa.org.
The cutest chipmunk in all of Derry Township. Thanks, Robert. N.! Hit us with your best names for this little guy and then send us your own cool photos. Use #PAGems on Instagram or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
MAP VETO: Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a congressional map sent to him by Republican lawmakers, leaving the monumental job of picking Pennsylvania's next district lines to the state courts. In his veto message, Wolf said the map failed "the test of fundamental fairness." Commonwealth Court will pick the new map from one of these submissions. The ruling could then be appealed to the state's Supreme Court.

BALLOT QUESTIONS: Since January of 2021, Democratic and Republican legislators have proposed more than 70 updates to the state constitution. But despite the significance of these voter-led changes, it's difficult to track them as they move through the process. With that in mind, Spotlight PA compiled all the proposed changes in a database that will be updated regularly. You can support this effort here.

COURSE CHANGE: Board members with Pennsylvania's $73 billion school pension fund won't be required to sign non-disclosure agreements to hear the findings of an internal investigation into the embattled plan. The PSERS fund still wants the board to sign the secrecy pacts, but is not insisting upon it, a spokesperson said. A previous email from the board's chair didn't mention an option to refuse.

FAMILY TIES: Former state treasurer Barbara Hafer hasn't held office since 2005 and can't hold it again here following a 2017 federal conviction. But The Caucus reports Hafer's political action committee is still very active, collecting millions from investments Hafer made with donor money and raising red flags over $500,000 in consulting fees paid to the committee's treasurer, Hafer's daughter Bethany

UNDER ARREST: Amid an ongoing debate about the role of police in schools, a new ACLU report finds Allegheny County students are the most likely in all of Pennsylvania to be arrested, with significant racial disparities and significant underreporting of the arrests by their districts. In Pittsburgh, zero student arrests were reported in 2017-2018, but the ACLU found evidence of 499 during the same period.

WILD NIGHT: Video of the aftermath of a "late night toy-destroying party" at a Bedford County animal shelter is Exhibit A in the case against the lone suspect, a rescue pup named Gilligan. Sure, overnight security cameras caught Gilligan red-handed, but let's not jump to any conclusions.

RAD RIVERS: The people have spoken and French Creek is Pennsylvania's River of the Year. The Allegheny tributary, which cuts across the western part of the state, topped all others in DCNR's popular vote-based competition. TribLIVE reports the Monongahela River still has reason to celebrate.

UPCYCLED UNDIES: A South Jersey company wants to shred your old underwear and turn it into acoustic insulation, bedding, carpet padding, furniture, and more, Green Philly reports. It's okay if the undies are so old they've shredded themselves, but no bras or swimsuits allowed.

SKATE COLLEGE: A meeting to finalize the design of a forthcoming skatepark at High Point Park in State College will be held at 6 p.m. tonight with both in-person and virtual attendance options. In April, the “unsung hero of action sports," renowned ramp-builder Nate Wessel, shared his thoughts.

PLAY NEXT: Philadelphia hardcore band Soul Glo have a new album called Diaspora Problems coming out in March and a fantastic, "Whiplash"-esque music video to hold everyone over until then. 

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.

Yesterday's answer: Auxiliary

Congrats to our daily winners: Michelle T., Eddy Z., Patricia M., Craig W., Vicki U., Barbara F., Keith F., Susan N.-Z., Bonnie R., Don H., Wendy A., Mike B., Al M., Suzanne O., Pam M., Joel S., Becky C., Beth T., Kim C., Doris T., Cindy G., Chris M., Susan D., Kimberly S., Judith D., Michael K., Patricia R., Lex M., Elaine C., John A., Alan V., James B., Elizabeth W., George S., Nancy S., Ronnee G., John P., Bill S., Tish M., David W., Virginia C., Daniel M., Craig E., John H., Garrett W., Irene R., Dianne K., and Jami M. 
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Chip in to support local journalism.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
225 Market St., Suite 502A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, a daily newsletter by Spotlight PA.

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.