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|In today's edition: potential shutdown, debt pays, future concerns, stalled bills, and decision appeals. Help us continue this vital work by supporting Spotlight PA & your gift will be DOUBLED.|
|A top official of Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro's administration who resigned this week had been accused of sexually harassing a fellow staffer months earlier, according to a document obtained by Spotlight PA. |
Mike Vereb, Shapiro’s former secretary of legislative affairs, was named in a complaint filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. The document detailed alleged harassment dating back to February.
Spotlight PA is not naming the person who filed the complaint. The complainant declined to comment.
Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Top Shapiro staffer was accused of sexual harassment before resigning
THE CONTEXT: From Spotlight PA:
“The complainant shared the filing with the commission in a text message to state Rep. Abby Major (R., Armstrong) in July 2023, according to screenshots of the conversation with the lawmaker reviewed by Spotlight PA. It is unclear how far the complaint against Vereb progressed through the Human Relations Commission. He declined to comment.
Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for Shapiro, said Thursday that while the administration “does not comment on specific personnel matters, it takes allegations of discrimination and harassment seriously.”
Vereb is a longtime ally of Shapiro and has worked with him for decades. The governor's office put out a statement Wednesday confirming Vereb's departure and saying that his role would be filled on Oct. 2 by TJ Yablonski, who currently serves as a senior advisor in the administration.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE|
“On my way here all I was thinking about was, 'Please, God, don't let it be true …' And when I got here, and I saw the glass on the floor, all my products, all my hair was gone. It was heartbreaking.”
—Claudia Silmeas, owner of Nat's Beauty Supply, when she discovered her store was hit during a second night of burglaries in Philadelphia
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|» STORY FEST: Spotlight PA is participating in Philly Story Fest, a first-of-its-kind festival that brings together storytellers from across the city on one stage. Join us Thursday, Oct. 5 from 7-10 p.m. at the Bok building in South Philadelphia (1901 South 9th St.). Tickets are $25 and available here.|
» PATH TO EQUITY: Join Spotlight PA for its first in-person summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Spotlight PA is co-presenting this event with Color & Culture, a Pennsylvania marketing firm. Tickets are on sale at this link until sold out.
» ELECTION 101: Join Spotlight PA’s government reporters Kate Huangpu and Stephen Caruso on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pa.’s 2023 judicial candidates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to email@example.com.
A stunning shot of a sunset in Berks County, via David S.
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| SHUTDOWN EFFECTS: The federal government could shut down tomorrow if Congress is unable to pass a funding package, the AP reports. Some federal programs could be affected, including SNAP benefits, which an estimated 1.88 million Pennsylvanians receive. Other programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, will not likely be impacted.|
LOOMING DEBT: Pennsylvanians in cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are concerned about what the return of student loan repayments will mean for their day-to-day living. After a three-year freeze, the payments will resume Oct. 1, impacting the finances of tens of millions of borrowers across the country.
BILL SETBACK: Two closely watched criminal justice bills were held up as legislators ironed out details, PennLive reports. The bills would overhaul the Pennsylvania probation system and change the process for sealing criminal records, but state Senate and House lawmakers differed over the legislation’s provisions.
ELECTION SPOTLIGHT: Allegheny County’s district attorney race has attracted an unusual amount of outside attention and money, PublicSource reports. National megadonors have lent their support to both incumbent Stephen Zappala and challenger Matt Dugan, who have competing visions for criminal justice policy in the county. Researchers say big donors are increasingly involved in local races because of inaction at the state and federal levels.
CHARGES REFILED: Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s office has refiled charges against Office Mark Dial following a judge’s decision to dismiss the case Tuesday. Dial fatally shot Eddie Irizarry, 27, during an August traffic stop. The charges include murder, voluntary manslaughter, and aggravated assault.
|🏆 SMART STUFF: Did you stay on top of Pennsylvania news this week? Prove it with the latest edition of the Great PA News Quiz: Amtrak addition, Taylor Swift-inspired legislation, 2024 bids, and toy riots.|
|FLEETING SERVICES: Many maternal units in rural Pennsylvania are shuttering from the lack of OB-GYNs. The maternity deserts are causing expecting parents in those areas to seek care farther out, Pocono Record (paywall) reports.|
HISTORIC MEMORY: A Pennsylvania man may be one of the last living witnesses of Atomic Annie — the only nuclear device to be fired from a cannon. He gave an eyewitness account of the event to WITF.
NEW STYLE: U.S. Sen. John Fetterman’s (D., Pa.) signature casual style will no longer be allowed in the U.S. after the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution adopting a formal dress code.
DRY WINTER: A white Christmas looks unlikely for Pennsylvania. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a warm winter for the northern region of the United States.
FARM SHOW: The theme for next year’s Pennsylvania Farm Show is “Connecting Our Communities,” Lehigh Valley Live reports. The event aims to show how agriculture brings people together.
Unscramble and send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.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
S E I I R T U Z N C
Yesterday's answer: SuperstitiousCongrats to our daily winners: Eric F., Joel S., Kathink B., Ted W., Becky C., Stacy S., John E., Barbara F., Kimberly D., Richard A., Don H., Susan N., Elaine C., Judith D., Marie B., James B., Wendy A., William Z., Stanley J., Dennis M., Craig E, Amy S., John P., Tom M., and Dan A.