NOTE: First Read will be off until next Monday – Happy Thanksgiving!
WEATHER: Philadelphia: partly cloudy, high of 58; Harrisburg: partly cloudy, high of 56; Pittsburgh: rain, high of 55.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* President Donald Trump plans to travel to Pennsylvania today for a meeting of state Republican lawmakers examining baseless accusations of election impropriety, according to three people familiar with the matter, the Tribune News Service reports.
* Despite weeks of extreme rhetoric and failed lawsuits from President Donald Trump, Pennsylvania’s top elections official certified the state’s presidential election results on Tuesday, officially declaring Joe Biden the winner and paving the way for him to receive the state’s 20 Electoral College votes next month. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar made the final count official three weeks after the Nov. 3 election: Biden received 3,458,229 votes, 80,555 more than President Donald Trump’s 3,377,674 votes. Biden won 50.01% of the vote to 48.8% for Trump, the Inquirer reports.
* Philadelphia City Council has hit the brakes on a rush to equip all police officers with Tasers following the fatal police-involved killing of Walter Wallace Jr. earlier this year. City legislators have yet to schedule a necessary committee hearing for a $13.8 million proposal from the Kenney administration to buy 4,500 Tasers and related equipment from the Arizona-based Axon Enterprise before the end of the year. As a result, the bill cannot pass before the end of 2020, the Tribune reports.
* The Pennsylvania Department of Health, in step with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will begin prioritizing covid-19 contact tracing and case investigation efforts as cases surge and fewer people cooperate with tracers and investigators. Pennsylvania’s positivity rate rose to 11% this week, with more than 34,700 new cases reported over the past seven days, according to Michael Huff, the state’s director of testing and contact tracing efforts. The surging cases and test positivity percentage led the CDC to recommend triaging both case investigations and contact tracing efforts, the Tribune-Review reports.
* Attorneys for Pennsylvania election and state government officials filed their response to a lawsuit by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, and Republican congressional candidate Sean Parnell, calling their request to throw out the results of Pennsylvania’s general election “simply breathtaking,” the Tribune-Review reports.
* The “cult” of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has now grown to encompass a national following, which has a myriad of implications for his political future, WITF reports.
* PennDOT is now just days away from potentially pulling the plug on nearly 400 road and bridge projects across the state on Dec. 1 after trying unsuccessfully to get legislative approval to borrow $600 million to help pay for them, PennLive reports.
* Former Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh was charged with theft early Tuesday for allegedly allowing employees to improperly collect comp time for volunteering at fund-raisers for the office’s K-9 unit. Her live-boyfriend and former subordinate, Harry McKinney, faces similar charges, as well as allegations that he improperly diverted money meant for the unit to cover personal expenses, the Inquirer reports.
* The Inquirer gives thanks for the front-line workers who keep our loved ones, society, and democracy alive.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: the legendary Marian Tasco (11/26) … Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson (11/26) … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email us their name, job title and upcoming birthday to email@example.com
9:30 a.m. - the Philadelphia City Council Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development and The Homeless will meet. This meeting will be held remotely using Microsoft® Teams. This remote session may be viewed on Xfinity Channel 64, Fios Channel 40 or http://phlcouncil.com/watch-city-council/
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KICKER: “Pennsylvania’s transportation funding is in a state of emergency.” – PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. From PennLive.
KICKER, Fetterman edition: “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, the president would be on deck to have a better Thanksgiving than he’s going to have.” From WITF.