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Key redistricting work kept behind closed doors

Plus, Pa. police officer used government email to join anti-government militia.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
October 28, 2021
Political lines, Oath Keepers, unpaid bills, fatal finds, strike watch, felony chase, and satanists eye school dress codes. It's Thursday. Welcome to PA Post.

"'Tell the truth or your three kids will be fatally shot.' It included their names, it included our address, it included a picture of our home."

—GOP Philadelphia Commissioner Al Schmidt telling a U.S. Senate panel about threats he received after defending the 2020 election process
» A COMPLETE GUIDE to the Nov. 2 election in Pennsylvania, including how to find your polling place, mail ballot details, who's on the ballot, and more.

» A SPECIAL GUIDE to who's running in the state Supreme Court election and other significant appellate court races

» A BASIC GUIDE to vetting your local candidates in Pennsylvania's 2021 school board elections, which are receiving renewed attention this year.

» A FREE PANEL on the election and why it matters — watch it here.

If you value these voter resources, please make a tax-deductible contribution to Spotlight PA so we can keep them free and available to all every election season.
» COURT CASE: A state House committee has voted along party lines to challenge in court a state regulatory panel's recent decision upholding the Wolf administration's school mask rule, PennLive reports.

» LOCAL OUTBREAK: A high number of COVID-19 cases has closed an Ambridge middle school for at least a week, per KDKA-TV. 

» OPEN SOURCE: Merck will license drugmakers worldwide to produce its antiviral COVID-19 pill, NPR reports.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
A mural takes shape in the heart of Harrisburg. Thanks for sharing, @yatsko! (See photos of the progress here and here.) Send us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
ANTI-GOVERNMENT: A Rolling Stone report on Oath Keepers who joined the anti-goverment militia using their government emails includes mention of a Pittsburgh police officer who signed on with the far-right group while "highlighting his experience as a firearms instructor" and promising to spread the word to his students

PSERS PAY: Republican State Treasurer Stacy Garrity hasn't approved several payments to big law firms hired to help Pennsylvania's largest pension navigate a sprawling law enforcement probe. The Inquirer reports Garrity, a member of the PSERS board, declined to elaborate on the refusals, but sources say she and others aren't happy with the firms

DEATH INQUIRY: Fatal overdoses and suicides would be investigated by government-sanctioned "review teams" — with family permission — under a bill approved by a state House committee this week. The goal is to find ways of preventing similar deaths in the future, and the Morning Call reports the idea is not without precedent in Pennsylvania

TEACHER STRIKE: Scranton teachers who've been working without a new contract since 2017 say they will strike next week unless there's a breakthrough in negotiations, WNEP reports. The announcement followed the district's tentative approval of a budget with no tax increase and no pay hike. Teachers say they're owed millions in retroactive pay.

CHASE LAW: Pennsylvania's GOP-controlled Senate has approved legislation upping the possible penalties for those who flee the police on foot, Capital-Star reports. The bill, now headed to the House, is named for a Scranton officer who fell to his death during a foot chase in 2015. The ACLU says it criminalizes "the constitutional right to run."
TIMELINE: A day-by-day map of Civil War military movement shows a brief Confederate invasion of south central Pennsylvania in June of 1863, otherwise known as the run-up to the Battle of Gettysburg.

PLAY NEXT: Pittsburgh son Mac Miller's mixtape "Faces" is now on streaming services, seven years after its release and three years after Miller's death at the age of 26. GQ chronicles the making of the "crucial project." 

FRESH START: After years of covering the restaurant industry, Philly Mag's food editor is stepping down to launch an eatery of his own, writing, "even with the future of restaurants so uncertain, I still believe in them." 

DRESS CODE: A Delaware County school district has removed a ban on clothing deemed "satanic in nature" after satanists warned of the First Amendment implications, per 6ABC. 

GOOD READ: An excerpt from Pittsburgh author Damon Young's 2020 memoir includes "the most badass thing he ever said to someone" and an incredibly vivid description of an Eat'n Park midnight buffet
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:
 Food and drink
Yesterday's answer: Stromboli

Congrats to our daily winners: Irene R., Michelle T., Lynne E., Mark C., Judith D., Beth T., Susan N., Ann E., Elizabeth W., Jodi R., Don H., Sandra F., Kim C., Neal W., Brandie K., Bill S., Tim B., Catherine J., Bridget C., Carol D., Mike B., Doris T., and Craig E.
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