The return of vacation season? | Five for Your Weekend

By: - June 5, 2021 6:30 am

Denali (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).

Happy Weekend, all.

Associate Editor Cassie Miller here, reporting back after a few weeks in Alaska!

Even fully vaccinated, I wasn’t sure my trip to the 49th state would happen this year after, well, everything, but it looks like I’m not the only one “getting back out there.”

According to an April survey from Tripadvisor, an online travel research platform, 67 percent of Americans plan to travel between June 1 and Aug. 31. 

The survey found that individuals in the millennial age group were the most excited to travel again, with 72 percent of millennial respondents planning trips. 

Of those planning to travel, 74 percent of Americans reported that they will take a domestic trip and 13 percent said they would travel internationally. 

Unsurprisingly, more than half (53 percent) of Americans plan to spend more on trip this year than last year.

However and wherever you decide to travel this summer, do it safely!

As always, your Top 5 Most-Read Stories of the week start below.

Cheers to a leisurely weekend,

Cassie Miller | Associate Editor



1. Pa. cities could see 15 new round trips as part of Amtrak proposal

In March, Amtrak announced its 2035 Vision plan which included proposals to expand and improve rail service throughout America, with more than 30 new routes and better service on more than 20 existing routes.

Under that plan, Pennsylvania would see three completely new routes serving the eastern part of the state, as well as enhanced service routes throughout the state, including Western Pennsylvania.

Recently, Amtrak released even more details about the 2035 Vision plan, including precisely how many round trip trains it is proposing for each new route. According to the Connect Us report, Pennsylvania cities could see 15 new train round trips. These would connect train travelers to new cities that currently aren’t served by trains — like trips between Scranton and New York City and between Reading and Philadelphia — as well as adding some round trips to cities where service is infrequent and inconvenient, like between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

2. Philly Council looks to diversify city workforce by eliminating so-called ‘Rule of Two’

Legislators are aiming to nix a rule they say thwarts Black and brown city employees from moving up the ranks.

Members of City Council took up a proposed resolution to eliminate the so-called “rule of two” that regulates the filling of city civil service vacancies and promotions by limiting the eligibility pool to the two candidates with the highest scores on examinations and assessments, such as a standardized test.

The proposal would task the city’s director of personnel to determine a new candidate pool limit, as well as specify the number of times a city employee can be passed over when seeking a promotion or filling a vacancy, and how long they can remain eligible for them.

The resolution, which was introduced on Thursday, would give voters the final say on the proposal through a referendum vote in order to change the Home Rule Charter.

The resolution will need 12 votes on City Council in order for the question to be posed to voters. Eleven legislators sponsored the resolution. Council President Darrell Clarke also supports the proposal.

3. Mastriano, Pa. state lawmakers visit Arizona election audit

Three Pennsylvania state lawmakers visited an ongoing review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, Ariz., on Wednesday.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, and state Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, all took the trip west to meet with Arizona state legislators and tour the audit facility, according to a statement from the audit’s official Twitter account Tuesday.

This review was approved by the GOP-controlled Arizona Senate in February, and comes after former Republican President Donald Trump waged a months-long campaign to overturn the 2020 election results, citing baseless claims of mass voter fraud.

While unsuccessful, Trump has since promoted Arizona’s audit, believing it will find evidence of his unfounded theory of electoral malfeasance.

4. The fight over critical race theory lands in Harrisburg; House GOP bill would punish districts that teach it | Thursday Morning Coffee

The nationwide fight over the teaching of ‘critical race theory,’ has landed in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, throwing another log on a culture war fire that’s already seen the Republican-controlled chamber advance bills limiting abortion rights and expanding gun rights, even as some lawmakers seek to ban transgender youth athletes from participating in sports that correspond with their gender.

Reps. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon, and Barbara Gleim, R-Cumberland (the prime sponsor of that transgender athlete bill), began seeking co-sponsors for their proposal to “[curtail] the divisive nature of concepts more commonly known as ‘critical race theory,’” on May 21, arguing that “teaching our children that they are inferior or inherently bad based on immutable characteristics such as race and sex can be extremely damaging to their emotional and mental well-being.”

Only a niche term a year ago, the fight over critical race theory, which scholars view as an overdue attempt to educate public school students on how racial disparities are embedded in U.S history and society, has become the latest bete noire of the right, with conservatives arguing that teachers are trying to inject race into what should be a colorblind system, the Washington Post reported on May 3.

5. Group led by ‘kraken’ lawyer Sidney Powell hired the firm recounting AZ’s election to probe election in Fulton Co.

A nonprofit organization run by former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell, who filed a series of lawsuits last year attempting to overturn presidential election results in Arizona and other states, contracted the company that’s now counting 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County to conduct an election audit in a rural Pennsylvania county, according to records obtained by the Arizona Mirror, a sibling site of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

Wake Technology Services, Inc., co-founder Gene Kern and Fulton County’s elections director, IT director and one member of the three-person election board signed a document on Dec. 31 stating that Kern was requesting to check the county’s voting machines and mail-in ballots from the general election.

At the bottom of the typed document are handwritten notes stating that Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano set up the audit and that Wake TSI is contracted with Defending the Republic, Powell’s 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. County clerk Lisa Mellott-McConahy identified the handwriting as belonging to Kern.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the weekend. See you all back here next weekend.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.