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Pa.-heavy insurrection set for primetime hearings

Plus, U.S. Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
May 3, 2022
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Open siege, Roe v. Wade, toxic academy, spread thin, murder charges, power struggle, and Marietta's cave house. It's Tuesday. Welcome.
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The U.S. House select committee investigating last year's U.S. Capitol attack will hold a series of daytime and primetime televised hearings next month showcasing new findings from the probe, NBC News reports.

The hearings will precede the release of the Democrat-led committee's full report and feature "explosive revelations" pieced together behind the scenes over a period of months, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.) said.

On Monday, the committee requested interviews with three more GOP lawmakers, citing evidence that some House Republicans sought pardons from then-President Donald Trump after the mob attack.

The panel, which has interviewed more than 935 witnesses, has also sought an interview with GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who worked closely with the Trump White House on a sprawling effort to overturn the 2020 election. Perry has refused the committee's Q&A request.

Last week, the New York Times reported that Perry was among the lawmakers who — in a call with Trump's lawyer and chief of staff — backed a plan to urge Trump supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

THE DEFENDANTS: According to the LA Times, thousands of people surrounded the Capitol before the building was breached, while hundreds broke through police lines and stormed the building.

Roughly 800 people have been charged with related offenses since. Pennsylvania's share is one of the highest in the country.  

In an article on the cases that have gone to trial, the Associated Press reports juries have rejected an array of defense claims. The majority of cases have ended in plea agreements and sentences without jail time

(NPR has a database of outcomes searchable by state.) 

Last week, authorities announced Howard C. Richardson of King of Prussia, 71, had pleaded guilty to a felony for assaulting a police officer during the mob violence. Charging documents say Richardson struck a Metropolitan Police Department officer with a flagpole so hard that it broke. 

He's scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 26 and faces a statutory maximum of eight years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. 

“This U.S. hypersensitivity about civilian casualties is an enormous weakness that Saddam exploited during Desert Storm and will do so again..."

State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin), a leading candidate for governor, in a 2002 academic paper saying the U.S. should "not hesitate" to strike at locals if a military regime is nearby; experts say it's a recipe for war crimes
» A complete guide to the May 17 primary, including how to vote, find your polling place, understand mail-in ballots, and more

» A guide to the overlooked race for Pa. lieutenant governor

» Your guide to the Democratic and GOP candidates for governor

» Big donations to GOP guv hopefuls: Who gave and how much?

» See how much cash Josh Shapiro has raised in the governor's race

» More election coverage

Support Spotlight PA's public-service election and voting coverage now.
» PRIMARY PRIMER: Join us Thursday, May 5 at 6 p.m. via Zoom for a free Q&A on Pennsylvania's candidates for governor, how they plan to lead, and how to spot misinformation. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
Pennsylvania crabapple blossoms looking ethereal in a photo by PA Poster Nora O. Have a Pennsylvania pic you'd like to share? Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
SEISMIC DECISION: According to a draft opinion leaked to Politico, the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that has affirmed the legal right to an abortion in America for decades. The decision won't be final until it's published in the coming months. Politico says votes and language can change. The end of Roe would make states like Pennsylvania prime battlegrounds in the fight over abortion access and exponentially raise the stakes of this year's gubernatorial election, Spotlight PA previously reported.

'NEGATIVE PRESS': Former Valley Forge Military Academy cadets tell Mother Jones that the famed institution with equally famous alumni has devolved into a Lord of the Flies cage match complete with hazing, fighting, and sexual assaults. One former officer said of leadership: "All they cared about was that there was no negative press, even if it meant that kids were being sodomized or kids were having inappropriate sexual relations, or getting drunk or getting high, or whatever."

NURSING RATIO: It's been decades since Pennsylvania lawmakers first required that schools have one nurse present for every 1,500 students, a mandate that looks increasingly unrealistic today, Capital-Star reports. Nurses are wearing more hats as mental health needs rise and the kinds of chronic health conditions that would have kept children out of school decades ago no longer do. And while there are efforts underway in Harrisburg to lower the ratio, they've gone nowhere. 

CRIMINAL CHARGES: A fired Philadelphia police officer has now been charged with murder over the shooting death of 12-year-old TJ Siderio in March. KYW Newsradio reports Edsaul Mendoza surrendered to police Sunday night. Police say TJ fired a shot into an unmarked police cruiser carrying Mendoza and three other undercover officers from a notorious plainclothes unit. Prosecutors say the shot that killed TJ was fired at near-point blank range while he was on the ground and unarmed.

AGENCY CONFLICT: The newly minted Delaware County Health Department is receiving pushback from municipalities despite getting the green light from the state. WHYY reports localities with their own health departments there say the county office is overstepping its boundaries. A judge overseeing a related lawsuit has paused inspections by the new agency. Spotlight PA reported in February on the traditional hurdles around forming new health departments in Pennsylvania.  
PERSONAL NEWS: Spotlight PA has won 10 statewide journalism awards, including top honors for its redistricting coverage, in a competition with all of the other news organizations in Pennsylvania. The recognition includes three of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association's top prizes. Want to make more award-winning public-service journalism possible? Make a tax-deductible donation to Spotlight PA today, aka World Press Freedom Day. 

COURTROOM ARTISTS: Pennsylvania's Supreme Court is turning 300, and in celebration of that milestone it wants students to design their own cartoon judge or write an essay about the importance of the court or their favorite court justice — a thing all kids definitely have. Friday's the deadline for submissions. Winners will be announced by the court this month

NO PARKING: Not everyone is excited for Pennsylvania's first-ever national  park at the Delaware Water Gap. Pennsylvania's largest sportsmen federation is worried about losing huntable lands, Outdoor Life reports, while local officials in New Jersey are worried about that and eminent domain.

LOCAL BAND: Lancaster "grumpy dad pop punk" band Ford The River has a new single out with too many central Pennsylvania references to count. The song, "Penn's Woods: There and Back Again," is streaming here.

CAVE LISTING: The Zillow crowd is having a field day with the listing for this unassuming Marietta house with an actual cave inside. "It’s creepy as hell," one opined. "On the other [hand], it could make a good wine cellar."
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: Spring things
Yesterday's answer: Germination

Congrats to our daily winners: Becky C., Craig W., Bonnie R., Vicki U., Don H., Elaine C., Susan D., Irene R., George S., Michelle T., Deb N., Judith D., Dianne K., Pat B., Kim C., Susan N.-Z., David W., Bill S., Jill A.-S., James B., and Grace M.
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