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Pa. redlining case yields 'historic' settlement

Plus, Central Bucks adopts 'unprecedented' book policy.

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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
July 28, 2022
Historic settlement, 'unprecedented' policy, Toomey's pick, frack check, donor wave, landmark trial, and 'chicken of the woods.' It's Thursday.

A company owned by billionaire Warren Buffett will pay millions to settle claims that it discriminated against potential Black and Latino homebuyers in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware, the AP reports.

The redlining settlement is being called the second-largest in history and was announced by the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday.

It includes a $4 million fine against Trident Mortgage Company, a division of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, and requires Trident back $20 million in loans in underserved neighborhoods.

The DOJ said Trident employees shunned mortgages in minority-majority neighborhoods and made racist comments about Black homebuyers between 2015 and 2019, calling certain neighborhoods "ghettos." One manager was photographed posing in front of the Confederate flag.

The marketing materials used by Trident involved exclusively white individuals, and nearly all of the company's staff were white, the DOJ added.

The Chester County-based company has not admitted wrongdoing.

THE CONTEXT: FiveThirtyEight documented the lasting effects of redlining in Pennsylvania cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, which the outlet said are "still segregated — just like they were designed to be."

And The Inquirer took a separate look at how racist real estate practices like redlining grew alongside the city's early suburbs.

The federal government outlawed redlining in 1968 but, as the DOJ's case against Trident illustrates, fell short of a total eradication. 

The practice effectively cut off entire communities of people from the primary means of wealth generation in this country: homeownership.

In Philadelphia, one of the country's most racially segregated cities, Black homeownership rates continue to lag those of whites and have steadily declined over the last 30 years, a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia analysis found. Mortgage access is a key barrier.

Trident no longer operates a lending business, according to the AP. In a statement, Berkshire Hathaway said it "strongly disagrees" with the DOJ's findings. Buffett did not immediately offer a comment.


"In this case, it appears that (the YWCA) is not aligned with our goals anymore and has crossed over into political advocacy."

—GOP Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parsons continuing a one-sided feud with the local YWCA over the organization's stance on voting
The view from Mount Washington in Pittsburgh looking west down the Ohio River (that's Brunot Island in the middle) by artist Juliet ZSend us your photos and art, use #PAGems on IG, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
'UNPRECEDENTED': A policy that would remove books deemed "inappropriate" from Central Bucks School District libraries was adopted by the district's board on Tuesday after months of pushback from critics who call it a de facto book ban. The policy targets books flagged for unspecified "sexualized content," WHYY reports, and is "unprecedented for Pennsylvania," per the American Library Association.

TOOMEY NOD: Outgoing U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) is backing Mehmet Oz in the race to fill his seat but demurred when asked about Doug Mastriano's campaign for governor by The Dispatch. In related news: Oz has voiced his support for legislation that would codify marriage rights for same-sex and interracial couples, per The Hill. His Democratic rival, John Fetterman, also supports the bill.

TOEING THE LINE: John Fetterman is striking a different tone on fracking in his current run for Pat Toomey's U.S. Senate seat. Inside Climate News reports Fetterman has softened his stance since first seeking the office in 2016 and is now toeing a precarious line "between appealing to environmentally minded voters, unions and economic interests in the nation's second largest natural gas-producing state."

MONEY RACE: A new subscribers-only article from The Inquirer breaks down the surge in donations to Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania that followed last month's Roe v. Wade ruling. Most Democrats in U.S. House and Senate races here saw bumps, including a 258% increase reported by John Fetterman's camp. Some Republicans see a warning sign. Others say the key issues are elsewhere.

UNDER REVIEW: A landmark case involving education funding in Pennsylvania — and claims of unconstitutional inequities therein — is now in the hands of Commonwealth Court Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer. There's no timeline for a decision and lots of material for the judge to sift through after months of testimony. Chalkbeat Philadelphia details the closing arguments presented by each side earlier this week
DATA BREACH: Wawa will pay $8 million to Pennsylvania and several other states over a 2019 data breach impacting some 34 million payment cards, the AP reports. The company also agreed to tighten related security.

PHAST PHILLY: Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron ponders Philadelphia's future as a "bedroom city"; Philly booksellers are crowdfunding a map of the city's bookstores, h/t Billy Penn; and Pete Rose returns.

CHICKEN RUN: "Chicken of the woods" is a wild mushroom found throughout Pennsylvania and renowned as a substitute for actual poultry in cooking. Here's what 50 pounds of "chicken" looks like growing on a log.

THREE LANE: PennDOT is eyeing more lanes for a busy stretch of I-81 in Luzerne County, per WBRE/WYOU. Ars Technica explains "induced demand" and why more lanes doesn't always mean less congestion.

NO CAP: State officials trying to curb mosquito populations offer a cleanup reminder: "The small pool of water that collects in a single upturned bottle cap is an incubator for as many as 300 mosquito eggs."
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