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Glitzy Pa. political pageant wants its shine back

Plus, Pennsylvania's first hazardous waste landfill.


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The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
November 30, 2022
High society, take two, sliding scores, House wing, hazard hill, big bills, Hershey's own, and money trees. It's Wednesday. This is PA Post.

Live from New York ... it's Pennsylvania's premier political gala.

This weekend, lawmakers and special interests will gather in New York City for several days of fundraisers, black-tie soirees, and posh parties.

The annual Pennsylvania Society fête, criticized by good-government groups as everything that's wrong with politics as usual, has seen attendance drop in recent years, but PennLive reports it's eyeing a comeback.  

The number of soirees is up this year, regulars say, the Waldorf Astoria is back in the mix, and Democratic Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro is set to show after repeated opt-outs by his predecessor, Gov. Tom Wolf.

THE CONTEXT: Wolf won't be there again this year, and neither will U.S. Sen.-elect John Fetterman and his tuxedo T-shirt.

Wolf, a frequent no-show, reportedly supports calls to bring Pennsylvania Society and its economic impact to Pennsylvania. 

Organizers, citing tradition, say that's not happening.

Also expected in the crowds this time: David McCormick, who's said to be eyeing a run for Pennsylvania's other U.S. Senate seat in 2024.

Criticisms of the event are sure to continue. Last year, Spotlight PA looked at the existential question looming over the affair — "Is Pennsylvania Society an anachronism?" — and found strong and differing opinions.

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"It has been an honor to serve as your city council member."

—Philadelphia Democrat Helen Gym, who resigned her at-large city council seat on Tuesday and could launch a run for mayor as soon as today
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be TRIPLED.

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Will you make a gift today and lock in your matching dollars?

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Thank you to the 154 people (!!) who gave Tuesday, including Nancy T., who said, "Honest journalism is vital to democracy." Join Nancy and give now (and get your contribution TRIPLED) »

As seen at Gettysburg National Military Park by Don N. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania

A path between a wooden fence and rows of corn at Gettysburg National Military Park.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.REDUX VOTE: Luzerne County's board of elections now says it's ready to certify the county's 2022 election results after a 2-2 deadlock that blew Monday's deadline. A special meeting is set for today. Abstaining Democrat Daniel Schramm says the questions that gave him pause have been answered and that he will vote yes, per WFMZ. Based on Monday's vote, that's enough to confirm the tallies.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.TEST SCORES: Pennsylvania's 2022 standardized test scores are out and a pandemic-era slide has continued. The Inquirer (paywall) reports that English scores for seventh and eighth graders were up, as were math scores at most grade levels, but the results still fell below where they were in 2019. English scores for third through sixth graders were down again, reflecting slides seen nationwide.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.FREEDOM CAUCUS: The Freedom Caucus has come to Pennsylvania. KDKA-TV reports the ultra-conservative, Tea Party- and Trump-aligned lawmaker group, originally launched by U.S. House members, now has a chapter in Pennsylvania's state Capitol. The state House iteration is the latest of its kind and launched this week with lots of "no compromise" vows from officials and few policy details.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.WASTELAND: A Pittsburgh-based landfill company is seeking permission to open Pennsylvania's first hazardous waste landfill and eyeing a Westmoreland County site within one mile of hundreds of homes and two and a half miles of a school district, Environmental Health News reports. A public hearing is set for tomorrow, while written comments are being accepted until Jan. 20.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.PASSED DOWN: Western Pennsylvania health care titans UPMC and Allegheny Health Network are spending huge sums on state-of-the-art facilities they say will improve care quality and convenience, but which critics worry will lead to higher bills for patients. In other health care news: TribLIVE profiles the dwindling number of hospitals trying to maintain their independence amid a wave of mergers.
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be TRIPLED.

MOVING ON: The U.S. advanced to Round 16 of the World Cup with a 1-0 win in Tuesday's do-or-die match against Iran. Hershey's own Christian Pulisic scored the team's only goal. Next up: the Netherlands on Saturday.

STEPPING DOWN: State Sen. John Gordner (R., Columbia) has resigned his seat effective today. PoliticsPA reports he's joining the office of Senate Interim President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland) as counsel.

IN MEMORIAM: Funeral services will be held tomorrow and Friday for T. Milton Street Sr., the former Pennsylvania politician and uncle to state Sen. Sharif Street (D., Philadelphia). Street Sr. died Monday at the age of 83.

'WOKE' WORK: A group of Warwick School District parents is trying to recruit church leaders to join an effort to combat “woke curriculum” and library materials that “debauch and deflower,” LNP (paywall) reports.

TREE TAGS: That Pennsylvania-grown Christmas tree could be pricey again this year. Dealers say drought, fewer farms, and other factors are driving inventory shortages and sticker shock, per Axios.

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. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Communicative

Congrats to our daily winners: Ted W., Vicki U., Susan D., Barbara F., Theresa T., Don H., Craig W., Patricia M., Chuck M., Kimberly D., Irene R., Jody A., Wendy A., George S., Jane R., Mark O., David S., Dianne K., David W., James B., Kim C., Joel S., Susan N.-Z., Stanley J., Bill S., Elaine C., John P., and Starr B.
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