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Group behind guv mansion reno won’t reveal donors

Plus, sports-loving Pittsburgh’s basketball paradox.

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Monday, March 25, 2024
Today: Residence renovation, population politics, no deployment, keystone polls, e-vehicle vote, and Philly police fitness. Hello, Monday.
A pricey design firm has been hired to renovate Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro's official state residence in Harrisburg. But no one will say who is managing the project, raising money for it, or exactly who is paying for it.
The contract with de la Torre Design Studio was signed by Team Pennsylvania, a Harrisburg-based nonprofit whose mission is to bring together public officials and private-sector leaders to collaborate on bolstering the state’s economy. The group does not publicly disclose its donors, and declined a request from Spotlight PA to share who is backing the residence redesign.
The result is public officials using private money, from undisclosed sources, to carry out work on a state-owned property. 

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Upgrades to Pa. governor's mansion bankrolled by private group that won't disclose donors or full cost

"This issue requires leaders in both parties to step up and deliver real, comprehensive solutions — not more of the failed talking points and political grandstanding that have brought us decades without immigration reform."

—Shapiro spokesperson Manuel Bonder on why the governor won't be sending the Pennsylvania National Guard to the Mexican border after the party-line passage of a state Senate resolution urging him to do so

Our popular 'Now Serving the Truth' aprons!

Don't go another dinner without showing your support of the truth and facts over nonsense. SHOP THE SALE NOW >

TRUSTING ELECTIONS: Join us Tuesday, April 2, at 6 p.m. ET on Zoom for a live panel Q&A with Al Schmidt, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of State, and Beth Schwanke, of Pitt‘s Disinformation Lab, on creating trust in our election system and how to combat misinformation. Register for the event here and submit your questions here or to events@spotlightpa.org

A great-horned owl feeding her owlet in Lancaster County, via Elliott C. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
a brown owl with orange undertones feeding her baby in a tree trunk
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.PA POLLING: New CNN polling finds Pennsylvania voters confident in the accuracy of elections, but only 47% said they're happy with their choices for president. With the two major party candidates tied at 46% here and a quarter of voters open to changing their minds between now and Nov. 5, that leaves plenty of room for the state to swing — but CNN reports Biden's winning 2020 coalition seems more intact than Trump's.Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
BIDEN CAVEAT: Pennsylvania's population has changed since the 2020 election, and not necessarily in ways favorable ways to Biden. The Inquirer (paywall) reports: New census data show Pennsylvania’s population declines since the last presidential election are mostly concentrated in counties Biden won

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.MIXED MESSAGE: Republican dissonance around mail voting in Pennsylvania continues. After years of vilifying the option, GOP groups are now spending huge sums to encourage the base to vote by mail in an effort to erode Democrats' edge. But just last week GOP lawmakers here moved a bill that would bar key mail-voting options.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.'GRAY GAMES': A lawsuit is in the works following Philadelphia City Council's adoption of a crime deterrence-framed ban on “skill games” in many businesses there, per City & State. The move follows a favorable ruling for makers of the slot machine-like devices and comes as Gov. Shapiro calls for statewide regulation and taxation.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.LOWER LIMITS: Months after Gov. Shapiro signed a law loosening physical fitness requirements for Philadelphia police, the AP reports more applicants there are passing the exams (51%, up from 36%). But one expert cautioned, in a November interview with the Capital-Star, that lower standards could result in more wasted resources
🤔 NEXT QUESTION: Were you paying attention to the news this week? Prove it with our latest news quiz: March Madness moment, Biden’s US Steel warning, and a 'sanctuary' city.
SWEEPING CHANGES: scathing blog entry written by a former medical resident prompted a racism investigation at Lehigh Valley Health Network and now sweeping changes there, per Lehigh Valley Live.

'NO' VOTE? U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) last week did not rule out voting with the GOP against a Biden administration rule meant to curb tailpipe emissions and speed the electric car transition, per Politico.

MR. CLEAN: The "Twitter Menswear Guy," aka Derek Guy, breaks down all the reasons why the sartorial choices of Pennsylvania's Mister Rogers worked so well for so long. There was a lot more to it than just cardigans.

FIRE FOOD: The Inquirer (paywall) asks: Is the best Italian restaurant in rural Pennsylvania this Northampton County firehouse?

HOOP HISTORY: Duquesne’s Cinderella run was cut short, but the team’s March Madness appearance spotlights a notable absence in Pittsburgh’s pro sports scene, the New York Times (paywall) reports.
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: Basketball

Congrats to our weekly winner: Carol O.

Congrats to our daily winners: Stacy S., Barbara F., Julie K., Elaine C., Tracy S., Maureen G., David T., Don H., Daniel M., Stephanie C., Bob C., Mike B., Cathy S., Jon W., Craig E., Beth T., Malachy M., Alan B., Art Z., Judith D., Kimberly B., Kim C., Ted W., Richard A., Karen W., Jody A., Frederick H., Elizabeth R., Lynne E., William Z., Tish M., Janet S., Janet C., Vicki U., Jane R., Leslie B., Marie B., Jeffrey F., Wendy A., Tom M., Greg V., Kaye L., Stanley J., Ada M., David M., and Theresa T.
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