Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

Who's up and who's down this week?

Who's up and who's down this week?

We Are… ready to get vaxxed? Penn State Football Head Coach James Franklin urged fans this week to get their COVID-19 vaccines so alumni, students and fans alike can fill Beaver Stadium once again. Franklin’s messaging is the latest effort from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to combat vaccine hesitancy in Pennsylvania — a problem that certainly hasn’t been helped by the internet inoculation “experts” spouting public health disinformation in the darkest corners of the web. One such group of conspiracy theorists — QAnon — has been linked to false attacks against the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines, among other wild, untrue accusations. One candidate for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick, found herself walking back associations with QAnon this week after appearing on a podcast with QAnon conspiracy theorists. Scroll down for more of this week’s winners and losers. 


* Jason Ortitay — Rep. Jason Ortitay emerged this week as a lawmaker focused on getting to the bottom of the Wolf Administration’s recent snafus. The Allegheny County state representative spearheaded the formation of a select committee to investigate an error that derailed a legal remedy for child sex abuse survivors. As a result of the mistake, Ortitay also introduced a constitutional amendment to remove the administration from the amendment process entirely. And if that wasn’t enough, he also called for an investigation into a COVID-19 contact tracing data breach that may have affected over 70,000 Pennsylvanians. But we’ll get into the data breach later. 

* Mark Nordenberg – All eyes were on former University of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg this week after the state Supreme Court tapped him to lead the Legislative Reapportionment Commission — the body tasked with drawing state legislative maps. Nordenberg’s appointment received praise from lawmakers and advocates who admired his academic pedigree and his apparent independence. And while he’s a winner this week, Nordenberg will have to work with a divided commission made up of legislative leaders who couldn’t even settle on a fifth member. Godspeed, sir.

* Daniel Greenstein – The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education made major moves this week to adopt plans to consolidate state universities, and to address racism on campuses. Daniel Greenstein, PASSHE chancellor, has taken bold steps to make the education system more sustainable and accountable. Under what PASSHE calls the “integration” plan, Lock Haven, Mansfield, and Bloomsburg Universities would be combined in the northeastern region, while Clarion University, Edinboro University, and California University of Pennsylvania would be combined in the west. Hopefully these plans will soon provide more specifics on both integration fronts. 


* Rick Santorum – Pennsylvania’s former senator-turned-CNN pundit sent the internet into a frenzy last week when he nearly forgot that Native Americans were here before the pilgrims, saying there was “nothing here” when the United States was founded. Speaking at a conservative youth conference, he went on to add that “there isn't much Native American culture in American culture.” After some public outcry, Santorum surfaced on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time'' this week and attempted to clarify his remarks, saying he “misspoke” and was “not trying to dismiss Native Americans.” A half-apology is better than no apology… right?

* Bruce Bartman – Many GOP lawmakers insisted there was rampant voter fraud in Pennsylvania. They were right about voter fraud taking place, but they didn’t anticipate it coming from their own party. Bruce Bartman, a 70-year-old from Delaware County, was sentenced to five years of probation this week after pleading guilty to casting a vote for Donald Trump in the name of his deceased mother. Claiming he was misled by voter fraud propaganda, the only logical response for Bartman was to commit it himself. As a result, he has now lost his right to vote for the next four years.

* Alison Beam – Investigations into state agency mishaps seem to be a trend recently. Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam has had a difficult job since taking over the department amidst the pandemic, and it’s not getting any easier. DOH reported on Monday that they would be sending notifications to the 72,000 Pennsylvanians whose personal information was exposed during a data breach of Insight Global, the company contracted by the Commonwealth to handle COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. A lawsuit filed this week claims that Insight and the DOH were aware of the mishandling of private health information back in late February, but no actions were taken by the department until April.