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Why Pa.'s congressional map was chosen

Plus, Pa. delays idled scores of nurses in COVID crisis.


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March 11, 2022
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All of Pennsylvania's Supreme Court justices have released opinions on the congressional map chosen by the judiciary in a 4-3 decision last month, revealing for the first time the differing perspectives on their role in the redistricting process and what constitutes a fair political map. 

Citing traditional redistricting criteria and partisan fairness, the majority opinion — written by Chief Justice Max Baer, a Democrat — outlines four reasons why the Carter map was chosen out of more than a dozen options.

Baer writes there's no such thing as a perfect proposal and that the court's job is to decide which "best abides by the traditional core criteria with attention paid to subordinate historical considerations" and partisan fairness.

Spotlight PA and Votebeat report one dissenting justice disagreed with parts of that mission statement, while the other two worried the methodology outlined by Baer could lend itself to perceptions of political bias.

Read more about the opinions for and against the selection here

CENSUS COUNT: Seven months after the release of 2020 census data that guided redistricting work in Pennsylvania and beyond, the Census Bureau says the count missed some 18.8 million people nationwide.

The bureau says the data is still accurate enough for redistricting purposes. An analysis reviewed by the American Statistical Association agreed

The undercount disproportionately impacts Black, Latino, and Indigenous residents who were omitted at higher rates, with some civil rights leaders blaming the Trump administration for cutting the count short.

State College, for one, was already disputing its population tally, which shrank over the past decade, a conclusion locals say strains credulity.

In Pennsylvania, the census data showed a state becoming less white and more concentrated in and around cities.


"Overturning the result of a decisively won election in the largest and most racially diverse county in Pennsylvania is part of a pattern of anti-democratic and fascist behavior running rampant through the Republican party."

—Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner on GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill McSwain calling for an end to DA elections in Philly, and only in Philly
» FOR THE RECORD: Join us Wednesday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m. ET via Zoom as our reporters and other experts discuss Pennsylvania's open records law, how it impacts Spotlight PA's coverage, and how you can use it, too. Register here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org
A calming close-up of a Camp Hill flower, courtesy of @yatskoSend us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
NURSING NEEDS: Administrative delays sidelined scores of nurses looking to work in Pennsylvania as the COVID-19 pandemic raged and strained hospitals faced staff shortages. WITF and NPR found that more than half of the 12,000 nurses issued licenses to work in Pennsylvania last year waited for three months or longer to get them, among the longest waits of the 32 states where data was available.

OVERCOUNTED: Far fewer Philadelphians are vaccinated than previously thought. The Inquirer reports only 34.2% of the city's 5-to-11-year-olds have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, far fewer than the 53.6% stat officials have touted for weeks. And just 76.4% of Philadelphia adults are fully vaccinated, less than the 82% that had been reported. Officials blame "data errors."

CRUNCH TIME: Candidates who want to get on the May primary ballot have less than five days to collect the petition signatures necessary to do so. Candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, for example, will need 2,000 signatures from different parts of the state. This year's gathering period was modified via court order, and election law attorney Larry Otter tells ABC27 he expects to see a thinning of the herd.

ON RETREAT: President Joe Biden will address a gathering of U.S. House Democrats in Philly today. The lawmakers are there for a pre-midterms, platform-building retreat. Capital-Star reports Pennsylvania is a microcosm of the forces at play this year: Biden's poll numbers are down here, dissatisfaction is up, and shares of Democrats and independents say things are headed in the wrong direction

BRIDGE WORK: The Wolf administration has picked the companies it wants to manage construction on as many as nine interstate bridges, upgrades Wolf wants paid for with new and contested tolls. The AP reports the companies include three international firms and four with Pennsylvania ties. Wolf's Department of Transportation is still deciding which bridges to toll. Construction could start next year.
OPEN-MINDED: The former deputy director of Gov. Wolf's office of advocacy and reform, Victor Cabral, is a social worker certified in MDMA and ketamine therapies. He wants more people of color to try them and reconnect with the kinds of ancestral traditions demonized via colonization, per WITF.

BLIGHT FIGHT: Meadville's City Council is looking to land banks to fight blight and, if they go that route, would likely be the smallest municipality in the state to do so, the Meadville Tribune reports. A much larger city, Pittsburgh, offers lessons on what not to do, as the Post-Gazette reported.

BOX BOOM: Pennsylvania's e-commerce-fed warehouse boom continues with a state court upholding a block on a 1.2 million-square-foot complex in Swatara Township, Walmart planning a 1.8 million-square-foot facility near Shippensburg, and more proposed in Palmer Township

NOW STREAMING: A new Netflix series dives deep into the life of Pittsburgh native and pop-art prince Andy Warhol. The Andy Warhol Diaries even used AI technology to recreate the late artist's voice, City Paper reports. 

MISFIT MASCOTS: When Inquirer writer Stephanie Farr asked for names of the Philly area's best B-list mascots, Twitter delivered with hoagie mascots, recycling mascots, air quality mascots, celery mascots, and more.
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.

*This week's theme: Temperature
Yesterday's answer: Hyperthermia

Congrats to our daily winners: Bonnie R., Mike B., Don H., Doris T., Jill M., Vicki U., Suzanne O., Susan N.-Z., Judith D., Karen W., June B.-W., Pat S., Beth T., Mark C., Craig W., Kimberly S., Susan D., Becky C., Jude M., Elaine C., Sandy B., Kim C., George S., Marsha B., James B., Pat B., Bill S., Dianne K., Sandy S., Elizabeth W., and David W.
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