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Can Philly use opioid cash to improve Kensington?

Plus, Krasner loses SEPTA authority case.

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

Monday, June 17, 2024
Today: Trust funds, poll pressures, squatting squabbles, minority views, overdose data, and unfortunate fashion facts.
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A state trust that oversees how Pennsylvania spends millions of dollars in opioid settlement funds is expected to reconsider a range of programs at its public meeting this week.
Trust officials have publicly raised concerns about some spending, including Philadelphia’s use of $7.5 million for Kensington residents and an additional $3.5 million aimed at overdose prevention and “community healing.”
“It is a significant sum of money, and we just have no details,” Tom VanKirk, the chair of the trust, said of Philly’s programs.
The city has defended both efforts and says it provided the trust with additional information about where the money is going and why it’s appropriate. 
Decisions the trust makes could have an influence for years to come as counties allocate settlement money.

Read the full report: Drug testing, Philly parks, and other opioid money decisions await final approval in Pennsylvania


“Everyone just really feels how high the stakes are in Pennsylvania, being the largest swing state in the country.” 

—Good-government advocate Lauren Cristella on legal and political scrutiny of Pennsylvania’s mail voting laws ahead of the 2024 election.
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PROPERTY VALUE: Join us Thursday, June 20 from 6-7 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free panel discussion about how outdated property assessments affect schools, roads, and more. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
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a brown and green bird getting nectar from a yellow flower
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
CAMPAIGN STOP: Former President Donald Trump will hold a rally in Philadelphia at Temple University on June 22, the Capital-Star reports, the visit marking his fourth stop in Pennsylvania this year. Last week, his campaign opened an outreach office in Reading to boost support among Latino voters.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
HOME RULES: The state Senate has approved legislation that would change how “squatter’s rights” disputes work in Pennsylvania, the Center Square reports. The bill, which received bipartisan support, would expand the definitions of “tenant” and other terms in order to clarify how property owners can remove certain occupants. 

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
KRASNER RULING: Commonwealth Court ruled in favor of a state law that removes the Philadelphia district attorney’s authority over crimes on SEPTA property, the AP reports. The new special prosecutor who will handle crimes on SEPTA was announced the same day, and the court decision allows the hire to proceed, according to the attorney general’s office.  
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
BLACK VOTES: USA TODAY and Suffolk University polled Black voters in Pennsylvania and Michigan to learn how they feel about the presidential candidates. In a summary of their findings, they note flagging support for President Joe Biden, small gains for former President Trump, and disagreement with Trump’s claims that his legal troubles make him more appealing. 
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
DEATH DISPARITY: Black people in Pennsylvania who died from opioid overdoses were half as likely as white people to receive the overdose drug Narcan, according to a recent study from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. WHYY reports Black overdose deaths in Pennsylvania increased by more than 50% between 2019 and 2021 while white overdose deaths remained the same. Researchers say historical, cultural, and systemic factors play a part in the disparity.
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🤔 Great PA News Quiz: Which artist is facing backlash for their school voucher support?
SENDER UNKNOWN: To gather info for possible class-action lawsuits, a business owner paid for anonymous mailers asking residents in three Northampton County communities if they’d experienced discrimination.
SHELTER OPTIONS: Pittsburgh officials are struggling to relocate roughly 130 Second Avenue Commons residents more than a week after a fire displaced them, WESA reports.
OBIT OBSTACLES: LGBTQ activist and blogger Sue Kerr details the challenges of getting her late father a newspaper obituary, via PublicSource. 
DEEP ROOTS: The signature “wedding tree” of a Bucks County family farm known to host nuptials had to be cut down because of age; the farm owner has slowly been sharing the news with couples married there.
DISCARD DATA: A Drexel professor and her students are using discarded clothes to get a local perspective on the global issue of textile waste.
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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: Peripatetic or Precipitate

Congrats to our weekly winner: Thomas E.

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