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'Nothing’s changed' since Pa. Capitol #MeToo reckoning

Plus, lawmakers weigh in on the state's slow dementia crisis response.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
September 23, 2021
No change, health plan, sidelined again, short-staffed, new hopeful, 'rotting' rioters, and Pennsylvania's secret sanctuaries. Hello there! It's Thursday.
Three years after sexual harassment and assault cases in the Pennsylvania Capitol were brought to light during the #MeToo movement, LancasterOnline reports resulting reform efforts have largely gone nowhere.

This includes legislation designed to hold those involved in sexual misconduct, along with those who cover it up, accountable. 

Attempts to create independent, streamlined ways for staffers and others to report complaints have fallen by the wayside. 

And bills banning nondisclosure agreements and the use of taxpayer money for settlements have floundered.

"The message has been to victims and would-be victims: Nothing's changed here," said Jennifer Storm, Pennsylvania's former chief advocate for crime victims.

THE CONTEXT: Stories of workplace misconduct and sexual harassment in Pennsylvania government — powerful men touching or speaking to women in sexually deliberate or suggestive ways — came to light en masse in 2018. 

They followed the Harvey Weinstein scandal and Spotlight PA reporter Angela Couloumbis' own account of what she saw, heard, and experienced on the Capitol beat

Years later and little, if anything, has changed, per LancasterOnline.

While legislatures in other states have expelled lawmakers accused of sexual harassment and assault in recent years, Pennsylvania's legislature hasn't. 

Advocates say the state also needs a streamlined and consistent process for reporting misconduct, as opposed to differing standards and procedures within each agency and legislative caucus.

"I think our democracy is on the line."

—State Attorney General, and not-yet-official gubernatorial candidate, Josh Shapiro on legal efforts to stop a partisan election review in Pennsylvania

COVID-19 UPDATE: The FDA has authorized Pfizer booster shots for high-risk people, including those 65 and older; modelers say the delta surge appears to be peaking nationally, but they remain concerned about Pennsylvania; and 117 Penn State students are on interim suspension for breaking COVID-19 testing rules. To find the vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX).

>> CRISIS OF CARE: Join us Friday, Oct. 8 at noon ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on rising rates of Alzheimer's disease in Pennsylvania, the barriers to care, and the solutions urged by advocates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

A not-so-itsy-bitsy yellow garden spider spotted in Lancaster County. Thanks for the photo, Hedwig H.! Send us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
CRISIS RESPONSE: Pennsylvania lawmakers know a dementia care crisis is coming, but it's unclear if they'll agree on a response, Spotlight PA reports. With billions of dollars in federal stimulus funding now in savings and the Wolf administration pushing new regulations on nursing homes, some say the state's efforts are neither enough nor likely to work

NON GRATA: State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) has been barred from attending private meetings of his own party after weeks of criticizing leaders who sidelined him from the GOP's contested election review, Capital-Star reports. The reason for the move wasn't clear, but Capital-Star was told Mastriano will still have virtual access

NOT INTERESTED: Pennsylvania is facing a November general election with a shortage of poll workers, WITF reports, linking the dearth partly to false claims of voter fraud during and after the 2020 election, with one state official saying: "Who wants to do that [work] if this is how elections are going to be administered going into the future?"

ECON 101: The CEO of Chester County's Chamber of Commerce is leaving the post to run for governor, Daily Local News reports. Guy Ciarrocchi, a one-time Corbett administration aide, enters an increasingly crowded Republican primary with a very streamlined set of priorities, according to The Inquirer: "The economy is issue No. 1, 2, and 3."

SOUND BITE: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., York) says rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are being "left in jail to rot for months and months without charges," adding, "that’s reserved for terrorists at Gitmo." VICE reports Perry then admitted he doesn't actually know the details before continuing to echo the far-right talking point.
MINECRAFT: Pennsylvania needs more funding than any other state to clean up thousands of miles of streams tainted by coal mining, according to the AP. President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill puts $11.3 billion toward similar cleanups nationwide over 15 years — but only if it passes.

NEWS REPORT: The union representing Pittsburgh Post-Gazette workers has released a report on harassment in its ranks over the past 20 years. The News Guild of Pittsburgh's report comes a year after the chapter's former president resigned over misconduct allegations, Poynter reports.

PROTECTED PLANTS: Pennsylvania has designated 35 wild plant sanctuaries in state forests, Bay Journal reports, an effort to keep species from disappearing like so many before. The state says "specific locations are not being shared to prevent illegal poaching."

TICKET BLITZ: A new Philadelphia Parking Authority pilot program will target motorists illegally parked in bike and bus lanes. Five hours away in Pittsburgh, City Paper says cyclists there would love to see the same.

TAKE FIVE: Attention skyscraper/tall building aficionados: There's a free website that provides height charts for the buildings in your chosen city, arranging them from tallest to shortest like children at a family picnic.
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.
Yesterday's answer: Buzzworthy

Congrats to our daily winners: David I., Michelle T., Kevin M., Irene R., Craig W., Doris T., Eric E., Wendy A., Joyce O., George S., Kim C., Jessica K., Beth T., Helen D., Eugene L., Suzanne S., Sherri A., Joel S., Mike B., Keith F., David S., Kyle C., Karen W., David W., John F., Ted W., Al M., Kimberly S., Elaine C., Kammered1, Lex M., Kathy M., Don H., James B., Bill S., Judith D., Susan N., Beth L., Tim B., Elizabeth W., Daniel M., John P., Mary Kay M., Craig E.
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