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Gov. Shapiro's secret workday calendars

Plus, local officials back convicted Jan. 6 rioter.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Calendar block, J6 sentencing, dealbreakers, record attrition, tough-on-crime, prison studies, and Philadelphia's animal house. Thanks for checking in.

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro won't share his calendar and with it the details about who he meets behind the scenes and what they discuss. Experts say that while that level of secrecy is allowed, it isn't necessary. 

The decision marks a break from his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, and is the latest transparency measure rollback by the new administration. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Shapiro won't share daily calendar, a departure from previous Pa. governor's transparency.

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania's Office of Open Records, an independent state agency that settles Right-to-Know Law disputes, recently ruled in Shapiro's favor and found he does not need to share details about his schedule. 

But there's also nothing precluding Shapiro from sharing the information voluntarily, something Wolf did in detail over his eight years in office.

Full calendars offer a window into officials' work, priorities, and allies. They typically show which staffers, lawmakers, and nongovernment figures meet with the governor, when, and — to varying degrees — why.

Read more: Gov. Shapiro loosens gift ban for top Pa. officials.

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"I expected to die, and initially I was trying to decide — do I hang up the phone and call my wife? Do I make a video?"

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, survivor of the massacre at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue, testifying during day one of the gunman's trial on Tuesday
» ELDER LAW: Join us Thursday, June 1 at 6 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on Pennsylvania's elder protection laws and how they could be improved. Register here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org

Can you spot the fawn in this photo from Doug W. in Monroeville? Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.

A fawn bedded down in a garden.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.27 MONTHS: A restaurant owner in Kane, McKean County, was sentenced Tuesday to 27 months in prison for Jan. 6 rioting. The judge who sentenced Pauline Bauer (seen here on body cam footage) said letters of support from Bauer's community included this one from the Hamilton Township Board of Supervisors. Bauer threatened former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) with hanging.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.DEBT DEAL: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) was out in front as GOP hardliners in D.C. spent Tuesday drumming up opposition to a debt ceiling deal between President Biden and GOP leaders that experts say would avert economic disaster. The compromise bill needs to pass both chambers by Monday. Perry and his Freedom Caucus may not have the votes to stop it. Progressives have sticking points of their own

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.TEACHER TURNOVER: A Penn State study says teachers are leaving Pennsylvania classrooms at a record rate, with 7.7% of the workforce, or 9,587 teachers, having left between 2021-22 and 2022-23, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. Many were teachers of color or charter school instructors. Gov. Shapiro wants to implement a tax credit to grow the ranks, but it's drawn a rare lukewarm response in the Capitol.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.STOP AND FRISK: The likely next mayor of Philadelphia supports stop and frisk, a controversial police tactic that drew a class-action lawsuit against the city. Cherelle Parker, winner of the pivotal May primary, has been credited with providing a blueprint for tough-on-crime Democrats. Parker says she supports the "constitutional" use of stop and frisk, while her GOP opponent says there's no such thing, per WHYY.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.STUDENT AID: For decades, the U.S. government barred incarcerated people from accessing federal Pell Grants to attend college. That changes in July, and some of the roughly 40,000 people in Pennsylvania state prisons will be newly eligible. But PublicSource reports their options could be limited, while a trial run revealed technological hurdles. Others may not know the option even exists.

DEBT PAYMENTS: Pennsylvania's capital city has paid off a series of debts that go back more than a decade. According to WITF, Harrisburg has a wishlist of projects it hopes to pursue with the money that will be freed up, including infrastructure initiatives and police hires.

SOUSA SIGHTING: Fresh off an ignominious Pittsburgh departure, chef Kevin Sousa has reemerged in New Mexico. Taos News reports Sousa is joining the team at The Stakeout and hosting a BBQ on June 4.

DIFFICULT MOVE: How do you move 70 taxidermied animals out of a South Philly home? The Inquirer (paywall) reports with a crane and lots of patience. Here's video of a big brown bear flying high over the neighborhood.

GPA TWINS: Jose and Antonio Centenera are fraternal twins and Trinity High (Camp Hill, Cumberland County) grads who were separated by two minutes at birth and now only hundredths of a GPA point, WHTM reports. 

BUG OUT: The Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion — subject of a documentary on the $50,000 heist there in 2018 — has closed and been evicted by the sheriff. Many of its bugs are headed to Bucks County.

Support Spotlight PA's vital investigative and public-service journalism and your gift will be DOUBLED.
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