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Rich donors, Republicans aid Shapiro's transition

Plus, the latest on the tussle over Pa. House control.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
December 5, 2022
Team Shapiro, majority report, GOP pivot, Krasner counters, Capitol cars, pot pardons, and agnostic voters. It's Monday. This is PA Post.

As he prepares for his inauguration and makes key decisions about his administration, Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro is surrounded by some of the well-heeled donors who helped fuel his record-setting campaign.

The 37 members of Shapiro’s transition team and his 23-member inauguration team collectively donated more than $805,000 to the Democrat's massive war chest during this year's primary and lopsided general election.

Their companies and related PACs donated too.

The approach has critics, and left-leaning observers worry that Shapiro's transition team has embraced Republican power players and former corporate executives at the expense of more faces from organized labor, public education, and environmental advocacy circles.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: The teams helping Josh Shapiro prepare to become Pa.'s governor include wealthy donors, Republicans.

THE CONTEXT: Shapiro isn't the first governor-elect to give donors plum positions pre-inauguration, but Harrisburg observers say they've noticed some clear preferences in his transition team appointments: “a bunch of lobbyists,” as good-government advocate Michael Pollack put it. 

"This is not a good start," Pollack added of Shapiro, "but this is not overly disappointing, because it's completely expected."

It's unclear if Shapiro plans to impose Gov. Tom Wolf-style ethics rules on his transition team advisers. Wolf required his to complete conflict of interest disclosures and banned them from accepting gifts.

Reached by Spotlight PA, a spokesperson said Shapiro instituted a gift ban as attorney general and would sign legislation banning gifts for public officials and public employees as governor if it reaches his desk.

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"Every accommodation is being made to make sure no one is being turned away, but we are certainly in need of more options."

—Dan Palka, Allegheny Health Network’s director of urban health and street medicine, on Pittsburgh's new 90-bed, low-barrier homeless shelter, which opened right before Thanksgiving and is already at capacity
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Make a gift today to lock in your dollar-for-dollar match.

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An inside look at James and Anne B.'s diligent work on one of last week's Scrambler clues. Keep scrolling for today's. And send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania

Pieces of scrap paper showing word jumble guesses.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.CONTROL KEY: The special election to replace late state Rep. Tony DeLuca (D., Allegheny) was slated for Feb. 7 by House GOP leaders. Democrats, who won a narrow House majority in the midterms, say it's their call. The dispute, broken down by Spotlight PA, represents the first clash over control of the lower chamber, tied 101-101 in DeLuca's absence, and could impact its functioning in 2023.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.MAIL CHECK: Pennsylvania Republicans are reconsidering their war on mail voting after key midterm losses. "When one party votes for 30 days and one party votes for one, you're definitely going to lose," Andy Reilly, a Republican National Committee member in Pennsylvania, told Politico. With a Democrat incoming as governor, the GOP is also rethinking its push to repeal the state's expanded mail-voting law.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.CASE COUNTER: Progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has turned to Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court in search of a late-stage intervention that would stop the GOP-led impeachment effort against him. The AP reports Krasner is arguing that the counts he's facing are unmerited, that only Philadelphia can remove its district attorney, and that the articles of impeachment have expired.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.STATE CAR: A crash involving now-retired state Rep. Brian Sims (D., Philadelphia) and a state-owned Jeep left two people injured and their cars damaged. It's unclear if the state will accept liability. FOX43 reports Sims' Jeep slammed into a stopped car in York County on Nov. 15 and hit a second car. State-owned vehicles were recently banned for House members. Financial liability was one of the reasons cited.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.PARDON PICKS: Of the more than 3,500 applications for pardons of low-level and nonviolent cannabis convictions received by the Pennsylvania Marijuana Pardon Project, only 250 people were ultimately approved for a final vote, PennLive reports. Some people submitted more than one application, but advocates say the application window was too short and the program's parameters too narrow.
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CONFIDENTIAL TERMS: The parents of Erin Frein have settled a lawsuit that accused them of being partly responsible for Frein's 2014 ambush of State Police troopers that left one dead and another permanently disabled. The details of the settlement are confidential, per the Times-Tribune.

UNAFFILIATED VOTERS: Voters claiming no religious affiliation — mostly atheists and agnostics — contributed to victories for Democrats and abortion rights in states like Pennsylvania last month, per the AP. Roughly 22% of voters polled nationwide fit the category.

BRIDGE DERAILMENT: A derailment left a train dangling over the side of Rockville Bridge in Marysville on Friday and caused internet and road outages in the area. Officials said there were no injuries or hazardous materials involved. A cause wasn't immediately clear.

FINAL SCORE: Team USA was bounced from the World Cup with a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands on Saturday. Hershey's own Christian Pulisic, a U.S. Soccer star nicknamed "Captain America," had this to say after the match.

TRAIN SHOW: The Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum in Gibsonia includes a meticulous recreation of the cityscapes and countrysides between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Maryland. Take a virtual tour

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.

Friday's answer: Unctuous

Congrats to our weekly winner: Bill M.

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Joel S., Irene R., Susan D., Don H., Mike B., Chuck M., Bruce B., Kimberly D., Judith D., Michelle T., Jon W., Patricia M., John F., Barbara F., Jane R., Brian B., James B., George S., Kim C., Tish M., Al M., Dennis M., John P., Stanley J., Bill S., Susan N.-Z., Fred O., Dianne K., Eddy Z., Jodi M., Starr B., Elaine C., Vicki U., and Nancy S.
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