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Shapiro won't intervene on police data disclosure

Plus, abortion rights in Pa.'s supreme court race.

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Monday, August 28, 2023
🏆 SMART SCORE? Did you stay on top of Pennsylvania news last week? Prove it with the latest Great PA News Quiz: COVID-19 hospitalizations, falling unemployment, and Fetterman’s stache.
No intervention, court contest, Big Ten scores, shootout signs, maternal morbidity, pay pause, and a little league champion. 

A coalition of newsrooms has requested access to Pennsylvania’s database of certified police officers, but officials denied the info, citing safety concerns, and Gov. Josh Shapiro's office has declined to intervene.

Shapiro's office, echoing a 2014 Commonwealth Court ruling, said Pennsylvania State Police, which oversees the data collected from departments statewide, has no way of knowing which officers from outside agencies are doing undercover or covert operations and can't responsibly share their identities given that dynamic.

“Such a result is at odds with the [Right-to-Know Law],” a letter from the news outlets reads. “The law’s presumption in favor of transparency is explicit.”

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Gov. Shapiro refuses to intervene on Pa. police officer data disclosure as news organizations urge it.

THE CONTEXT: The information contained in the data, such as name, rank, and employment history, is public, but in 2014, Commonwealth Court ruled State Police did not have to release it because the agency didn't know which officers were undercover and could not redact their names.

Shapiro's office said members of the public and media can still access information about officers from individual departments, but Spotlight PA reports withholding names and employment histories "makes accountability difficult in a state where it is nearly impossible to know how many police departments exist and where loopholes hinder oversight mechanisms."

Pennsylvania is one of 15 states that denied the newsrooms’ requests, instead exempting police officers from a law that otherwise lets the public know the names and job titles of workers who collect taxpayer-funded salaries.


"We've got your back if you do."

U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) on United Auto Workers authorizing a strike against the Big Three U.S. automakers as contract talks continue
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
» Pa. Rep. Schemel (R., Franklin) won’t seek another term, via the Echo-Pilot
» Businesses, lawmakers call for action on permitting reform, via City & State
» Pa. rep., abuse survivor wants child predator vigilantes, via Capital-Star
» Freedom Caucus 'endorsements' under scrutiny in PA-01, via PoliticsPA
» Former Pa. guv hopeful Gerow resigns CPAC role, via Politico
MISSED CONDUCT: Join us Thursday, Aug. 31 from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom for a free panel discussion on Penn State’s post-Sandusky misconduct policies, transparency in higher education, and how universities can keep students and employees safe. Register here. Submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
Echinacea at Morris Arboretum & Gardens in Philly, via @noraodendahl. Have a photo you want to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A closeup of a grouping of bright pink flowers with dark brown centers.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.SCOPA RACE: Democrats in Pennsylvania are focusing on abortion rights that proved pivotal in last year's midterms as the party looks to further pad its 4-2 state Supreme Court majority, the AP reports. The race for a vacant high court seat pits Democrat Dan McCaffery, who vowed to protect “women’s reproductive rights,” against Republican Carolyn Carluccio, who’s promised to defend "all life under the law."Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.TEAM MARKS: Penn State football’s academic progress rate in 2021-22 was its lowest in more than 10 years, placing the Nittany Lions in last place among their Big Ten peers. According to Spotlight PA: Penn State had the lowest single-year score of its Big Ten peers in 2021-22 and now has the second-lowest score averaged across the past four years, a key metric the NCAA considers when doling out related penalties.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
'WARNING SIGNS': TribLIVE found "several warning signs" in the run-up to last week's eviction-related shootout in Pittsburgh. William Hardison Jr., 63, died at the scene during a standoff with police. The outlet reports his probation records, legal documents, and social media history "all point to an unstable life filled with run-ins with police, housing insecurity, potential mental health problems and ... an extremist ideology."
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.'CHILLING SNAPSHOT': Health problems after childbirth are rising in Pennsylvania. A new report found a 40% increase in poor outcomes between 2016 and 2022, what The Inquirer (paywall) calls "a chilling snapshot of a national maternal health crisis that disproportionately affects Black and low-income families." Carbon, Lehigh, Philadelphia, and Pike Counties had the highest maternal morbidity rates statewide.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
PAYMENT PLAN: Spotlight PA's Min Xian reports a judge has directed DuBois to "refrain from making any additional payments" to suspended city manager Herm Suplizio, who was charged in March with stealing more than $600,000 in public funds. Suplizio has been on leave and receiving full pay and help with legal bills from the city since his March arrest. Council recently voted to begin negotiating a buyout.
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
WALK-OFF WIN: The team from El Segundo, California, won the Little League World Series in South Williamsport with a walk-off homer on Sunday, beating Curaçao 6-5  and capping the 76th annual tournament.
  • RELATED: At Little League World Series, sledding competes with baseball, via WITF
STATUE SPA: A fresh coat of paint was applied and a tangle of poison ivy stripped away from the Statue of Liberty in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, PennLive reports, calling it a "spa day" for the iconic replica.

TO THE RESCUE: Pennsylvania park manager Sarah Lindgren spotted a young black bear on the side of the road in Cross Fork, Potter County, with a jug stuck on its head and recorded the quick-thinking rescue.

'CAR BRAIN NON-SENSE': The School District of Philadelphia will pay parents $300 to drive their kids to school amid an ongoing shortage of bus drivers, per WHYY. Urbanist Alan Fisher calls it "car brain non-sense."

MYSTERY MEAT: LNP (paywall) revisits that age-old question: What the heck do they put in scrapple anyway? Butcher Jay Smucker of Manheim says the ingredient list isn't as bad as people think — at least not anymore. 
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.
Friday's answer: Deciduous

Congrats to our weekly winner: Mark C.

Congrats to our daily winners: Ted W., Tracy S., Jane R., Beth T., Wendy A., Eric F., Julie K., Chuck M., Denise T., John E., Jon W., John P., Susan N.-Z., Judith D., Don H., David T., Barbara F., Daniel M., Jennifer C., Richard A., Debbie M., Brooke S., Greg K., Stacy S., Kimberly D., Gina L., Mike B., Kim C., Ronnee G., Stanley J., William Z., Bob C., Dennis M., Mary S., Edwina N., Susan D., Dan A., Karen W., Tom M., Vicki U., Eddy Z., and John H.
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