A round-up of COVID-19 vaccine must-reads you might have missed | Five for the Weekend

By: - January 30, 2021 6:30 am

(Getty Images/Maine Beacon)

Happy Weekend, all.

It has been a busy week for COVID vaccine news. From distribution to new vaccines, there’s no shortage of stories that you might have missed.

With that in mind, I compiled a short list of vaccine stories to help you catch up and stay informed. I picked stories that I felt would have the most impact on Pennsylvanians.

Vaccine must-reads: 
1. Philly Fighting COVID kicked out of city vaccine program after sudden switch to for-profit
2. Philly Fighting COVID CEO admits taking vaccine doses home despite patient demand
3. Kenney calls for investigation into Philly Fighting COVID, still backs Health Commissioner Farley

4. How Is The COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign Going In Your State?
5. Feds try to ease vaccine backlog by enlisting retired nurses and doctors

As always, the Top 5 Most-Read Stories from this week are below.

Enjoy your weekend,
Cassie Miller, Associate Editor

1. Pa. Rep. Mike Kelly came closer than you think to stealing the election for Trump | Bruce Ledewitz

The people of Pennsylvania are unaware of how close U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly came to stealing the election for president in Pennsylvania, and maybe the nation, for Donald Trump.

Kelly, a Republican and Trump loyalist who represents the Mercer County-based 16th Congressional District, challenged Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting in court and then, after the attack on the Capitol, objected to the certification of the State’s electors for Joe Biden. He now claims that all he did was stand up for the rule of law.

But, looking at events as a whole, Kelly not only took advantage of ordinary voters, but also of legislators in his own party.

In 2019, a bipartisan majority in the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 77, creating for the first time a regime of no-excuse mail-in voting for the State.

Everyone knew that there could be a state constitutional challenge to this change. Pennsylvania caselaw from the 19th and early 20th centuries treated in-person voting as the constitutional standard, with only limited exceptions for absentees. Because of anticipated legal actions, Act 77 gave challengers six months to sue and fast tracked any such challenge directly to the State Supreme Court.

This timetable would have given the General Assembly a chance to cure any defects, perhaps in time for the 2020 primary, but at least in time for the general election.

Surprisingly, no legal challenge was brought.

2. Report: Pa. Rep. Scott Perry ‘played key role’ in Trump plot to oust acting attorney general

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, “played a significant role” as former President Donald Trump considered firing the acting attorney general and backed down only after top department officials threatened to resign, according to a published report.

The New York Times reported late Saturday that Perry, a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, made Trump aware of Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. Perry was one of eight Republican members of Pennsylvania’s Capitol Hill delegation who objected to the results of last November’s general election.

According to the Times, Perry introduced Trump to Clark, “whose openness to conspiracy theories about election fraud presented Mr. Trump with a welcome change from the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, who stood by the results of the election and had repeatedly resisted the president’s efforts to undo them,” the Times reported.

3. Who is Jeffrey Yass? And why is he such a big problem for Pennsylvania? | Opinion

Pennsylvania has a Jeffrey Yass problem.

While right-wing billionaires such as the Kochs, the DeVos family, and the Mercers have tended to dominate discussion of the corrupting influence of big money in politics, Pennsylvania has become a playground for Jeffrey Yass and his untold billions.

Yass is the co-founder and managing director of Montgomery County-based Susquehanna International Group. But he’s more ubiquitously known as a sugar daddy and sole funder for many elected officials and political front groups throughout Pennsylvania.

His political handouts have recently come under intense scrutiny for their role in funding the coup attempt by extremists that left five dead, including a police officer, in the wake of the most violent attempt to overthrow our democracy since the 1800s.

4. No, the U.S. isn’t on the brink of a socialist apocalypse under Joe Biden | Jonathan C. Rothermel

It is official.  Joseph R. Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. The Democrats now control both the White House and both chambers of Congress after a Democratic sweep of the senatorial run-off elections in Georgia.

Some conservatives are bracing themselves for the onslaught of the so-called radical left agenda led by “The Squad” to massively re-distribute wealth and strip Americans of civil liberties, including gun rights. Gun sales in 2020 surged to record highs leading up to the election.

The hyperbole on the right that the United States is on the brink of socialism is good for fundraising, but it overlooks a basic understanding of the United States political system. An uninformed electorate is more susceptible to political conspiracies and will view politics simplistically as one extreme versus another.  Before preparing for the socialist apocalypse, consider the following points.

5. Johnstown lawmaker scores big win in fight with Pa. liquor board. But the fight continues | Mark O’Keefe

Having won his two-year right-to-know battle with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, a Johnstown legislator hopes to find out why the agency fought so hard to keep basic information from him and taxpayers across the commonwealth.

State Rep. Frank Burns, a Democrat, who represents parts of Cambria and Somerset counties, filed a right-to-know request to find out how many deactivated restaurant liquor licenses are available for auction in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

After being denied the request by the LCB, Burns appealed to the state Office of Open Records which ruled in his favor. The LCB then appealed that ruling to Commonwealth Court, which also ruled in his favor.

Finally, the LCB appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court which recently issued a one-sentence order, denying the appeal and upholding the Commonwealth Court ruling.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the weekend and we’ll see you back here next week. 

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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.