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Pa.'s push for more equitable public parks

Plus, ProPublica crosses a Pittsburgh picket line.

TRIPLE MATCH IS BACK: All week long for #GivingTuesday, your support of Spotlight PA and our investigative reporting will be TRIPLED thanks to a challenge match from Spotlight PA's Board of Directors.

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— Colin Deppen, Newsletter Editor

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

Monday, November 27, 2023
In today's edition: Public lands, county caution, anti-drug money, severance stop, labor conflict, and the return of Pennsylvania Society.
Pennsylvania has made headway in making outdoor recreation more inclusive, but not everyone feels safe or welcome at state parks and forests.

The latest state outdoor recreation plan identified safety and transportation as barriers to wider use of state facilities. Communities of color also reported feeling unwelcome and unrepresented in the outdoor industry.

Wesley Robinson, a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources spokesperson, told Spotlight PA that Pennsylvania has made headway with some of the plan's recommendations. However, vacancies within the department have slowed the pace of developing new programs.

Full coverage: Pennsylvania is investing millions to ensure people of all backgrounds, abilities have access to public lands.

THE CONTEXT: The Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, which runs through 2024, recommended that the state work with schools to connect kids to outdoor recreation facilities, build and promote easier trails, increase the number of adaptive equipment, and find more ways to include young people and diverse groups in programming decisions.

With more than 3 million acres of public lands and numerous outdoor recreation opportunities, the commonwealth is investing millions of dollars in projects and advisory boards intent on doing exactly that. DCNR is also looking to hire a specialist to oversee the outdoor recreation plan while working to improve how it tracks diversity among park visitors. 

"Every equipment 'Made in Israel' is Cyber Av3ngers legal target."

—A message displayed on Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa equipment following a purported weekend hack by an Iranian-backed cyber group
This week is #GivingTuesday Week, one of the most important of the entire year to the future of Spotlight PA. Last year, 200 people contributed more than $13,000 on #GivingTuesday. But this year, we must go bigger!

That's why, for a limited time, Spotlight PA's Board of Directors will TRIPLE every gift made in honor of Giving Tuesday.

Support Spotlight PA on Giving Tuesday this Tuesday, November 28.As a nonprofit newsroom, we depend on your support to power our investigative journalism. Our model of public support allows us to prioritize important journalism and impact over profits and advertising.

Do your part and lock in your matching dollars now »

Thank you to the 572 people who have given so far during our year-end drive, including Mary G., who said, "If not you, who will give us fair information?" Join Mary and make a tax-deductible gift now »

You can also give via PayPal or Venmo, or send a check to: Spotlight PA, PO Box 11728, Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728.

Old Glory in Chester County, via Elliott C. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

An American flag waving in the distance — bare trees behind it and a field of plants before it.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ELECTION FALLOUT: Northampton County's top election official, Charles Dertinger, has resigned following voting machine issues that marred balloting there in 2019 and again earlier this month. Capital-Star reports state election officials are confident the 2023 results are accurate following a state-mandated sample audit. Republicans are looking to decertify the results and discussing next steps today.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.NORTHAMPTON 2024: Politico reports Northampton County's 2023 election issues could fuel mistrust ahead of next year's presidential contest and carry lessons for counties far and wide. Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure says the issues were caused by human error. He's called for one person to be fired and says he's inclined to cancel the contract with the county's voting machine vendor.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
MYSTERY MONEY: Blair County's NAACP is investigating an anti-drug nonprofit that's soliciting money from the public and using it to fill a private bank account that's accessed by the county's district attorney with little to no oversight. WTAJ reports close to $300,000 in checks from the past 4 years have gone into the account. DA Pete Weeks is defending the arrangement. An audit is possible.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.PLAN BLOCK: The Democrats who swept Central Bucks School Board races on Nov. 7 are now fighting a $700,000 exit package the current GOP-controlled panel approved for a departing superintendent, the Associated Press reports. The package includes $300,000-plus for unused sick, vacation, administrative, and personal time, and also bans district investigations into the superintendent's tenure.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.UNION CONCERNS: Unionized ProPublica journalists want the news outlet to stop publishing with the Post-Gazette until the Pittsburgh paper's strike is resolved. ProPublica's top editor told WaPo (paywall) that the outlet won't halt the public health-focused collaboration. And in a private email, that editor said journalists who access internal documents about the work without permission could be fired.
Support Spotlight PA's vital investigative journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be TRIPLED.
BIRD CALLS: Dozens of birds that live in and flutter around Pennsylvania could have new names in the near future as the American Ornithological Society prepares to rename North American birds to dissociate the animals from namesakes with problematic pasts, Spotlight PA reports.

POPULAR PXV: As tourists flock to Chester County's Phoenixville, many drawn by the drinking and dining series PXV Inside Out, The Inquirer (paywall) says some local business owners are upset over the crowds and "feeling the growing pains of a boom that ironically, they helped usher in."
ADDED SECURITY: Penn State football coach James Franklin will have added security for the final home games of the season, per PennLive. Fans aren't happy with Franklin this year but officials say the added security isn't due to threats. State Police say it's part of a recruitment initiative.

PA SOCIETY: Pennsylvania's premier political gala returns to NYC this week amid well-worn criticism of the optics, special interests, and location. Pennsylvania Society's president says the latter will never change.

CAPITOL CHRISTMAS: A 20-foot tall Douglas fir from Carbon County arrived at the state Capitol last week to serve as the official Christmas tree
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.

*Thursday's answers can be found here.
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