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July 14, 2022
Inside this edition: Testing transparency in Centre County's local governments, festival season, Penn State's president at the center of a whistleblower lawsuit, and a '21st century asylum' in Centre Hall.

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Testing Transparency
Daniel Fishel for Spotlight PA
Real quick: When Spotlight PA's Dow Jones News Fund intern Emma Dooling requested employee salary data from Centre County and its 35 municipalities, more than 70% of the agencies responded quickly. Help us figure out what to focus on in the data. 

A bit more: In early June, Spotlight PA used Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law to request 2021 employee salary data from Centre County and its 35 municipalities to test their transparency and see which local government employees are earning the most in taxpayer dollars.  

Our initial review of data showed that a few of the top earners made close to $200,000 last year. 

The public records requests asked for the names, job titles, departments, and total compensations of each employee, broken down by their regular pay and any overtime, bonuses, and other wages they earned. We also requested race and gender information for each employee from the governments with the largest populations: Centre County, the Borough of State College, Ferguson Township, and Patton Township. Data about race and gender will help us monitor the issue of pay equity. 

Over the past month, we put out a bevy of phone calls and emails to local leaders across the county and got responses ranging from, “Well, we only have, like, five employees,” to “You’re really gonna flip some people out with this.”

Still, more than 70% of the municipalities provided their data in five business days, the initial response deadline under the state’s Right-to-Know Law. Two of the local governments requested a 30-day extension, while others granted the request but took longer to send the data.

So far, 35 of the 36 agencies that Spotlight PA requested records from have provided compensation data, three have provided additional data on gender, and two have provided data on race. 

The full story: Read more here.
📝 More From Spotlight PA
» Pennsylvania legislature seeks to declare state constitution provides no right to an abortion

» Pa. lawmakers agree to boost education funding and spend billions in remaining stimulus money as part of budget. Also, here's how Pennsylvania plans to spend its billions in federal stimulus money (full list).

» Pennsylvania has a new child care tax credit. Here's what you need to know.

» Pa. lawmakers agreed to a big elections funding deal — with strings attached

» 5 takeaways from our event on Pennsylvania's flawed police hiring database
📷 Local Gem
Penn State investigative reporter Wyatt Massey captured this photo of his dog, McKinley, in Moshannon State Forest — which is located in Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, and Elk Counties. Want to be featured here? Send your best local pics to talkofthetown@spotlightpa.org.
📰 In Other News
» Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi is at the center of a whistleblower lawsuit filed against the University of Louisville (WPSU)

» Inside the rural psychiatric hospital that staff call a '21st century asylum' (VICE News)

» Tioga borough looks to move forward after Loehmann scandal (WENY News)

» Penn State's general support funding remains flat for 3rd straight year; ag and innovation programs get boosts (StateCollege.com)

» Plan your visit to Central PA Arts Fest and the People's Choice Festival with this guide (Centre Daily Times)
📅 Events
Want us to list your event? Send it to us.

» July 14-17: More than 300 visual artists sell their creations at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in downtown State College and Penn State's University Park campus.

» July 14-17: People's Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts moves to Grange Park in Centre Hall.

» July 15-17: Coudersport celebrates the life and career of the lawman who brought down Al Capone with Eliot Ness Fest.

» July 15: Considered one of the best Reba McEntire tribute artists, Corrie Sachs takes the stage in Wellsboro.

» July 16: Squatchfest in Kane features live music, fireworks, food, and more.

» July 16: Blueberries and bluegrass music are the highlight at this festival in Mifflinburg.
🧩 The Puzzler
An anagram is a word, phrase, or name formed by rearranging the letters of another. For example, "spotlight" also forms "stoplight."

Decode the anagram and send your answer to talkofthetown@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA State College swag.

D A N G E R
 
Good luck!

Last week's answer: Players

Winner: Taran S.
Do you have events, community shoutouts, questions about our region, or tips on stories that we should pursue? Email our team.
 
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Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

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