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|In today's edition: corruption case, health strike, EMS emergency, presidential polling, hazing response, population trends, and Weird Ben Franklin.|
|New charges were filed Wednesday in a sweeping corruption case against suspended DuBois City Manager Herm Suplizio, many related to a bag of cash that showed up at City Hall soon after his March arrest.|
Suplizio was charged in March with stealing hundreds of thousands of public and nonprofit dollars over several years. Weeks later the city's solicitor, Toni Cherry, delivered a bag containing $93,920 in cash to other officials.
It wasn't clear at that time where that money came from, but 23 criminal counts — including 13 felonies — filed against Suplizio Wednesday (effectively replacing the 15 counts levied previously) offer new insights.
Read Spotlight PA's full report on the new counts: More corruption charges brought against suspended DuBois city manager.
THE CONTEXT: According to investigators, the $93,920 in cash, which Cherry said originally belonged to a city summer celebration fund, was hidden in the ceiling at the DuBois Area United Way, where Suplizio served as executive director, and initially discovered by employees of the nonprofit.
Authorities say the money was found inside a ceiling in four lockboxes, the keys to which were found in Suplizio's desk.
Cherry told City Council members during a closed-door meeting in May that Suplizio had brought her the cash weeks earlier, and that she had held onto it to prevent confiscation by Pennsylvania's Office of Attorney General.
When interviewed by the AG’s office, however, investigators claim Cherry said she did not remember when Suplizio, 63, gave it to her.
Suplizio is also facing new charges in connection with efforts he allegedly made to shield the former mayor from shoplifting charges. Cherry is not facing any charges and could not immediately be reached for comment.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE|
"We need aggressive action on climate, which means in Pennsylvania not just reducing our consumption but reducing our production."
—Karen Feridun on activists' growing frustration with Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro's approach to climate change and the fossil fuel industry
|» 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 TODAY 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.
|ON STRIKE: The largest health care strike in U.S. history got underway Wednesday with 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers in several states walking off the job. They are calling on the health giant to address staffing shortages, raise pay, and avoid outsourcing. WHTM reports Geisinger hospitals in central Pennsylvania are unaffected after Kaiser's deal to acquire the health system, pending regulatory approval.|
EMS EXHAUSTION: EMS staffers in York County say that, like striking Kaiser Permanente workers, they're stretched too thin. York Dispatch (paywall) spoke with several current and former EMS workers who "shared similar stories" of burnout and struggling to respond to calls, reflecting a national trend that has coincided with a steep drop in new applicants and one-third of U.S. paramedics quitting in 2021.
2024 POLLING: Another early Quinnipiac University poll has President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump essentially tied in all-important Pennsylvania, NBC's Meet the Press Blog reports. The same poll has incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) leading GOP challenger Dave McCormick by 6 points. Casey is outperforming Biden in his home state, largely thanks to independent voters, the blog adds.
HAZING CASE: A Penn State fraternity has been suspended for four years following a university hazing investigation, via WTAJ. The Delta Theta chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity had been placed on interim suspension in August. The school is no stranger to hazing activity and allegations. Spotlight PA reported in March that the new administration was quietly planning to roll back its Greek life oversight.
SHRINK STATE: Rural Pennsylvania's population will continue to shrink and the commonwealth's growth will slow through 2050, The Center for Rural Pennsylvania reports. The legislative agency projects a 5.8% rural county population decline and slower statewide growth over the next 30 years than seen between 2010 and 2020. One expert said it means "significant economic and workforce pressures" ahead.
SCRANTON SPOT: Scranton is front and center in a new ad from President Joe Biden's reelection campaign that touts his roots in the city in an effort to appeal to anxious middle-class voters, per Capital-Star.
PRIZE PROBLEM: UPenn is drawing fire for celebrating a Nobel Prize win by two mRNA-vaccine scientists, one a former employee who was demoted by the school and allegedly discouraged from continuing the research.
LAST ISSUE: Gettysburg College is shutting down its esteemed literary magazine, the Gettysburg Review, citing economic factors. The magazine's editors are taking issue with official statements on the matter.
BEN THINKING: It's been 300 years since Ben Franklin arrived in Philadelphia. The city's paper of record (paywall) has nine "weird" stories about his time in the city, from naked "air baths" to his pet squirrel named Mungo.
MULLET FAME: What does one do after winning a national mullet competition? Six-year-old Rory Ehrlich of Montco got a gang of llamas, state Capitol recognition, and facetime with the Phillie Phanatic.
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E I N U M D P O M C
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Yesterday's answer: Pandemonium