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Gov.'s office paying $295K over harassment claim

Plus, Pa. tax credits ‘mixed bag’ for job creation.

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Your Postmasters: Colin Deppen & Tanisha Thomas

Monday, October 23, 2023
In today's edition: Settlement figures, with credit, registration deadline, corporate owners, moderate support, hidden queries, and the Phillies in six. 

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office agreed to pay $295,000 to quietly settle a sexual harassment complaint against one of his most trusted advisors, according to records obtained through a public records request.

The settlement will be paid using public dollars.

It was signed on Sept. 5, more than three weeks before the advisor, Mike Vereb, abruptly resigned from his job as Shapiro’s liaison to the state legislature, prompting Republicans to question the governor’s handling of the matter.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office will pay $295K to settle sexual harassment allegation against top aide.

THE CONTEXT: The agreement included a controversial confidentiality clause that bars both sides from discussing the allegations against Vereb.

Spotlight PA is not naming the woman who brought the complaint, in which she alleges Vereb made inappropriate, crude, and sexually suggestive comments during her brief stint working for him earlier this year.

Such clauses have been widely criticized in the wake of the #MeToo movement, particularly when they are included in settlements by government agencies.


"Whether you’re on board or not on board with climate change, it still remains that this earth is the lord’s and the fullness therein [Psalm 24:1]."

—Rev. Richard Geib of Harrisburg’s Tree of Life Lutheran Church on Pennsylvania houses of worship turning to solar power as part of their responses to the "creation care" called for in the Bible
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» VOTER READY: Join us Thursday, Nov. 2 from 6-7 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on voting rights in Pennsylvania, important dates and deadlines, and answers to your remaining Election Day questions. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.

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The sky in Chalfont, Bucks County, via Carol L. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A gloomy sky over a large grass field framed by a treeline at the far end.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.TAX CREDITS: Pennsylvania gives out hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits each year to create jobs and encourage companies to invest here, but only some of those programs are working as intended, Spotlight PA reports. Despite questions the reviews have raised about the effectiveness of some programs, the amount Pennsylvania gives out in tax credits keeps growing.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
VOTER DRIVES: Today is the last day you can register to vote in the Nov. 7 election. Find more information here. Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro's automatic voter registration program at DMVs statewide gathered 11,303 new signups from Sept. 19 through Oct. 18, more of them choosing the GOP. WITF reports three times as many Republicans have used the system to register compared to Democrats.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.COST OF LIVING: Lehigh Valley mobile home tenants are questioning where their money is going as their rents increase but they see no improvements under billionaire corporate owners. The Morning Call (paywall) documents the blight, water outages, and eroding streets plaguing residents at Wolf Mobile Home Community in North Whitehall Township. Industry observers say it's part of a larger pattern.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.FLIPPED BOARD? The heavily Republican Elizabethtown Area School District in Lancaster County could see its first full slate of Democratic board members elected in November with help from moderate GOP voters, LNP (paywall) reports. One lifelong Republican voter told the outlet she's concerned Republican candidates hold extreme religious views that are likely to inform their decisions around school policy.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.DATA SEARCH: Washington County Prothonotary Laura Hough used a background check tool to secretly vet local and state Republican officials hundreds of times during her first two years of access, according to the Observer-Reporter. Hough, a Republican, claimed the searches for criminal history, voter registration, gun permits, and more were legitimate. Some of those targeted have privacy concerns.
THRILLER HUNT: Pennsylvania's tourism agency put together a list of "9 iconic M. Night Shyamalan film locations in Pennsylvania" that you can visit this Halloween, from Philadelphia to Phoenixville and beyond.

FORTUNE TELLING: The York Dispatch got a tarot reading at a Hanover shop recently warned about a 1861 law that prohibits them in Pennsylvania. The law is rarely enforced, with some notable exceptions.

INFAMOUS CRIME: Erie Reader has the story of perhaps "the greatest robbery in the annals of oildom." It involves a 19th-century Pennsylvania farmer who struck oil (lots of it) and stored his fortune at home.

CANDY KINGDOM: Atlas Obscura profiles the Wonka-esque Daffin's Chocolate Kingdom in Sharon and its menagerie of chocolate animals, including a 125-pound turtle and a 75-pound edible bunny.

GAME SIX: The Phillies are one win away from clinching a ticket to the World Series. The team leads the National League Championship Series against the Diamondbacks 3-2. Game 6 happens tonight at home.
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🏆 HARD QUESTIONS: Did you stay on top of Pennsylvania news last week? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Big election, pro-Israel donors, opioid billions, and a year on strike.
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 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.
  I E T A V N E T O G
Friday's answer: Flamboyant

Congrats to our weekly winner: Kevin H.

Congrats to our daily winners: Vicki U., Barbara F., Daniel M., Bob C., Don H., Richard A., Susan N.-Z., Susan D., Stacy S., Jon W., Kimberly D., Elaine C., David W., Marie B., James B., Craig E., Tyler K., Tom M., Wendy A., Becky C., Jody A., William Z., Jack G., and Rena Z. 
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