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|Travel tab, ballot update, sign and date, home attack, millions short, Pennie sign-ups, and moneyball. It's Wednesday. This is PA Post.|
|A HISTORIC CHALLENGE|
We're a small news organization that punches above our weight and produces among the very best local journalism in the country. But we need your help to sustain and grow our vital work in 2023.
We've been challenged to raise $125,000 from our readers by December 31st, and if we do it, the Lenfest Insitute for Journalism will DOUBLE it. That means your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
Will you help us kick off this historic end-of-year campaign by making a tax-deductible gift now?
This end-of-year fundraising campaign is our most important of the year. I know you're reading PA Post each morning, so can we count on your generosity this season to help us reach our goal?
— Colin Deppen, PA Post editor
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra spent $30,000 to take two state lawmakers on tour in Europe, comping concert tickets and picking up the costs for their airfare, hotel, meals, and other incidentals.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre) and state Rep. Rob Mercuri (R., Allegheny) were joined by their spouses on the trip.
The symphony, which secured nearly $10 million in state funding over the past five years, has hosted elected officials before on international tours and extended invites this time to all four legislative caucuses.
It's the type of perk that a legislative gift ban would make impossible. But the legislature has consistently failed to pass such a ban.
Read Spotlight PA's full report: The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra paid $30K to take 2 Pa. lawmakers to Europe.
THE CONTEXT: Spotlight PA learned of the European excursion through an anonymous source who shared the information after reading that several legislators were offered free trips to Wyoming this summer.
The Europe trip will not be publicly reported on the lawmakers' financial disclosures until May of next year, and even then, officials report few details: just the value of the gift or hospitality, and who paid for it.
Corman, through a spokesperson, declined to comment. Mercuri did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
And while calls for a ban on gifts from lobbyists and public policy influencers continue, no proposed bans or even limits have received a floor vote.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE|
"We continue to believe that if the annexation moves forward that the voters of both the City of Pittsburgh and the Borough of Wilkinsburg should have their voices heard on the question through the ballot box."
—Attorney Chuck Pascal after a judge denied a push that sought to fast-track Wilkinsburg's annexation by neighboring Pittsburgh using a 1903 law
|This is Spotlight PA's most important fundraising campaign of the year to sustain our nonpartisan, independent investigative journalism in 2023.|
If we raise $125,000 by Dec. 31, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism will DOUBLE it. That means your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, making your end-of-year generosity and impact go twice as far, and for a vital cause.
Make a tax-deductible gift now »
Thanks to the 30 people who gave yesterday, including Ronald S., who said, "We need informative investigating journalism." Join Ronald and give now »
|Fall foliage at Longwood Gardens, via Don N. And here are some fall foliage views, via NASA. Now a request: We want to see (and share) your mail ballot selfies and other voting pics. Email your Decision 2022 photos to us here, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania. |
|SCOPA DEADLOCKS: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has deadlocked on the legality of undated or misdated mail ballots and told counties they must segregate such ballots and cannot include them in Nov. 8 vote counts, per Spotlight PA. The state's high court is down to six members following the death of Chief Justice Max Baer, setting up the 3-3 impasse. Thousands of midterm votes could be affected.|
BALLOT GUIDE: In light of the above news out of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, it's crucial that you make sure your ballot is filled out correctly before turning it in. Find tips for completing and submitting your mail ballot and making sure it's counted in Spotlight PA's guide to mail ballots, which originally published in September. It's too late to request a mail ballot for this election if you haven't already.
POLICE REPORT: State Police are investigating a reported assault of a Democratic state House candidate at his home in Fayette County. WTAE reports Richard Ringer, who is running to replace GOP state Rep. Matt Dowling, said he found a man outside his home around 5 a.m. and confronted him. Ringer has reported multiple incidents at his house over the past three weeks. The motive is unclear.
HOME BUYS: A 222-unit Harrisburg housing complex once touted as a model of affordability is riddled with deficiencies and has been hit with more than a thousand code violations by the city. PennLive reports that one entrepreneur — a native of Harrisburg himself — wants to buy and fix the Residences at Governor's Square, but officials say his offer is millions short and they don't seem open to negotiating.
PENNIE DATES: The 2023 open enrollment period for Pennsylvania's Obamacare health insurance marketplace is open now through Jan. 15. The state says nine out of 10 Pennie customers qualify for financial savings, meaning most are eligible for subsidized monthly premiums. Enroll by Dec. 15 for coverage that kicks in New Year's Day. Enrollments done between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15 will kick in Feb. 1.
RESCUE CALL: After Allentown said no to rescue funding for the local minor league baseball team, which put the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs' MLB-affiliate status in jeopardy, Lehigh County said it will find a way. But Lehigh Valley Live reports it's unclear where exactly that $1.5 million will come from.
TOP TENS: Patch reports Pennsylvania has dominated the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of America's best retirement havens. Of the list's top 10 metro areas for retirees, five are in the commonwealth. They are: Allentown, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Reading, and York.
NEW CHARGES: A Hermitage man recently indicted over a cheating scandal that rocked the world of professional fishing is now charged with harassing a woman via text messages and hazardous driving, The Herald reports.
TOUR DATES: Taylor Swift's next tour — in support of her Midnights album — will include stops in Philly and Pittsburgh next year.
PHILLIES WIN: The Phillies won big last night, and that means they're up 2-1 in the World Series. Game Four starts at 8 tonight at home.
Unscramble and send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.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
R O P M S E T E A H
Yesterday's answer: Redundancy
Congrats to our daily winners: Barbara F., David S., Elaine C., Susan D., Becky C., Susan N.-Z., Jody A., Craig W., George S., Don H., Irene R., Dianne K., Steve D., Michelle T., Kim C., Mark O., Wendy A., Jane R., Mike B., James B., Starr B., Bill S., Chuck M., David W., and Stanley J.