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Mystery donor group fuels attack ads in PA Supreme Court race

I broke the identity of a group that had contributed more than $500,000 to air attack ads in the 2015 Pennsylvania Supreme Court race. It turns out that the same people running this group were behind another group — Pennsylvanians for Accountability — that PublicSource investigated a couple years ago. We were able to report the identity of this group days before the election, giving out readers important information to consider before voting.

Would you eat at a restaurant with a ‘C’ on the door?

The Allegheny County Council rejected an A-B-C food grading scale for restaurants twice, siding with local restaurant owners. The health department had already created a proposed grading system as a part of this proposal, so I requested the grading system and three years of restaurant inspection records. I then applied the proposed grading system to nearly a year of inspections that had already taken place. The story showed that an A-B-C grading scale would provide more gradation for consumers than a green sticker on the door, which was not an indicator of cleanliness.

Back-to-school preparations often exclude vaccines in PA

Pennsylvania had the second-worst vaccination rate in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I digitized eight years of vaccination records to find out why the state was failing. I found that Pennsylvania’s low vaccination rate was not caused by the state’s medical, religious or philosophical exemptions, but because the state allowed students to attend school for up to eight months without having all of their required vaccines. In response to my reporting, the Secretary of Health wrote an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Department of Health changed the provisional period to five days.