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Ups and Downs

Looney Tunes

It’s the first official week of spring and budget hearings are blooming all over the Capital City. But other news was made outside the halls of the Capitol … providing us with many of our Ups and Downs for the week ending March 23.

Down arrowAlan Shaw. The much-maligned Norfolk Southern CEO made an appearance before the PA Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and, while apologizing for the train derailment in East Palestine, avoided taking responsibility for the decision to vent and burn the toxic chemicals inside the trains.

Up arrowAbbott Elementary. ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” has made charter schools its boogeyman. The popular sitcom, now in its sophomore season, is wrapping up an arc in which the titular institution, a chaotic but whimsical inner-city Philadelphia school, faces off against the big, bad charter company down the street, Legendary Schools, which is actively seeking to incorporate it.”

Luzerne County Deputy Election Director Beth Gilbert, Election Board Chairwoman Denise Williams and County Council Chairwoman Kendra Radle. The trio declined invitations to attend The Committee on House Administration’s upcoming hearing focused on the county’s November general election paper shortage to examine “how a severe shortage of available Election Day ballots provided by Luzerne County effectively closed polling locations and prevented thousands of Pennsylvanians from exercising their right to vote in the 2022 midterm election.”

Down arrowJulie Wheeler. York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler received a cease-and-desist letter over alleged disparaging remarks she made against the county’s outgoing solicitor, Michèlle Pokrifka, leading to a call for an investigation from one of Wheeler’s colleagues.

Up arrowEric Olshan. President Joe Biden nominated the longtime assistant U.S. Attorney to become the top prosecutor in the Western District of Pennsylvania. Olshan has served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Pennsylvania for more than six years. The district covers 25 counties in the western half of the state and stretches from the Pittsburgh area north to Erie and as far east as Altoona.

Down arrowJohn “Herm” Suplizio. The DuBois city manager and executive director of the DuBois Area United Way allegedly made $620,815 in fraudulent transactions, using funds from city bank accounts and the Dubois Area United Way account to pay his personal credit card bills, make political donations and gamble.

Down arrowRaquel Evita Saraswati. A rising star in Philadelphia advocacy circles, Saraswati told everyone she was of Latino, Arab, and/or South Asian descent. But last month, Saraswati’s colleagues at the Quaker organization AFSC published an open letter that unraveled the image Saraswati has carefully sewn together of herself over the years. Saraswati was a white woman, they said, of German and Italian descent. She was born Rachel Elizabeth Seidel, and changed her name to Raquel Evita Saraswati — presumably to sound more diverse, they wrote.

Down arrowCentral Bucks School District. The Central Bucks School District has spent at least $250,000 since May on public relations and law firms amid a deluge of criticism and legal challenges involving anti-LGBTQ policies, WHYY reports. Philadelphia-based Duane Morris LLP was hired to represent the district in connection with the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s federal complaint alleging it created a “hostile environment” for LGBTQ students.

Unopposed Prosecutors. There are 35 candidates running unopposed for their county’s District Attorney position out of 49 possible races this fall. “Many people just don’t know all of the power that district attorneys actually possess,” says Danitra Sherman, the deputy advocacy and policy director at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “As voters, we often get excited about presidential elections, but not so much about local races, or state races at times, when those that hold positions at these levels have more say on and decision making power over the day-to-day life.”

John Wood. The former Philadelphia police lieutenant’s candidacy for Mayor of Philadelphia came to an end this week, citing his inability to keep up with the fundraising of other candidates. Wood’s best day in the race came when he drew the No. 1 position lost in the recent ballot position lottery.

Down arrowMarquerite Quinn. The former state lawmaker was forced to resign her position on the three-member Unemployment Compensation Board of Review last week. Her resignation was announced after PennLive inquired about Quinn’s service in holding down both the $145,018-a-year job as a governmental affairs director in the attorney general’s office and the $69,360-a-year position on the UC review board. Quinn’s resignation letter states that an internal legal review by the attorney general’s office “determined I should resign my position on the board.”

Down arrowDavid Andrew Hoover. The training sergeant at SCI Dallas sexually molested two female subordinates and made repeated comments pressuring them to perform sex acts, according to charges filed by the state Department of Corrections. He is facing indecent assault and terroristic threat charges after allegedly groping the women on a number of separate occasions late last year.

Down arrowRiley Williams. The 24-year-old Mechanicsburg woman will spend three years in a federal prison and also serve three years of supervised release for her role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot in the nation’s Capitol. “Her conduct from start to finish was outrageous and intentional,” Judge Amy Jackson said. “She was proud.”


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