Secretary Of The Commonwealth To Resign After Amendment Advertising Error

On today's program: The Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar after failing to advertise a constitutional amendment ahead of an election; Researchers at UPMC Children’s Hospital found that Black and Hispanic children are less likely to receive medical imaging than white children; and the Penguins manager Jim Rutherford resigned with five months left in his contract.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar will resign

(0:00 — 5:45) 

Kathy Boockvar is resigning as Secretary of the Commonwealth due to a Department of State error in advertising a proposed constitutional amendment that, if passed, would give survivors of sexual abuse more time to sue the perpetrators. 

In a press release, Gov. Tom Wolf said the mistake was because of human error and “has nothing to do with the administration of the 2020 election, which was fair and accurate.”

“There needs to be some accountability for this happening,” says Katie Meyer, political reporter with WHYY. 

The amendment in question would have opened a two-year window for survivors of child sexual abuse to retroactively sue their abusers, even if the statute of limitations on their cases had expired. 

“This is part of a package of bills that really came to a head after a 2018 report on abuse for decades and decades in the Catholic Diocese in Pennsylvania,” explains Meyer. 

Meyer says advocates of this amendment like Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) are calling for an investigation. The amendment could have been on the ballot this May had the advertising error not occurred. 

“It’s very strange, there were multiple other amendments in the same situation and those were advertised,” says Meyer.

“If they do the amendment again, it’s probably gonna take another two years to get on the ballot again. Lawmakers are also talking about just doing it as a simple bill,” says Meyer. “If that happens, it doesn’t have to go to a referendum, they can just pass it into law ASAP and the governor can sign it.”

Another path forward, she says, is to pass an emergency constitutional amendment, which is rare. 

Disparities in medical imaging for children fall along racial lines
(5:46 — 12:37)

Black and Hispanic children are less likely to receive medical imaging tests as part of an emergency room visit according to new research from UPMC Children’s Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh. 

This could have consequences on children’s health and the level of care they receive. 

Data from hospitals across 27 states shows Black children are 18% less likely and Hispanic children are 13% less likely than white children to get imaging tests during an emergency department visit compared to white children. 

“We weren’t able to answer [why this happens] through this study, but we can certainly hypothesize,” says Dr. Jennifer Marin, the lead author on this study. She says it’s possible there’s implicit bias among physicians, as indicated by other studies; there may have been language barriers; or if the patient has a relationship with a primary care physician. 

“One thing our study was not able to show, but really bears discussing, is the issue of who got the better care,” says Marin. “It could be that minority patients are not getting the imaging they need and that of course leads to complications down the road, but the counter to that is that white children may be getting imaging that they don’t need, and we don’t talk enough about unnecessary tests and low value care.”

Marin says by looking at 13 million emergency department visits, it’s clear some patients are getting good care and others are not, and it would benefit departments to create interventions and solutions that reduce such discrepancies.

Penguins manager resigns with five months left in his contract
(12:39 — 18:00)

Just 7 games into a shortened 56 game National Hockey League season, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, who oversaw 2 Stanley Cup championships for the Penguins, resigned. Patrik Allvin is serving as the interim general manager.

“In the entirety of the Sidney Crosby era, which I’ve been fortunate to cover all of it, this is maybe the only story where I didn’t have any idea this was coming,” says Rob Rossi, senior writer for The Athletic. 

Rutherford, 71, cited “personal reasons” for his resignation. 

“I don’t think there’s one thing [that led to it],” says Rossi. He says there wasn’t a contract dispute, nor a trade Rutherford was making that owners disagreed with. 

“I think something that might not have been as big a deal to say, their CEO David Morehouse might have been a bigger deal to Jim, and I do wonder if part of that is because Jim hasn’t been in the office much,” says Rossi. “He quit three times in a matter of 16 hours. At some point I think they were like, we’d better take his resignation, it doesn’t seem like he wants to do this anymore.”

Rossi says the relationship between the team owners and Rutherford seemed good. 

As to who will replace Rutherford, Rossi says he believes the list includes Tom Fitzgerald, the current New Jersey Devils general manager; Ron Hextall, former Philadelphia Flyers general manager; and John Ferguson Jr. who’s currently with the Boston Bruins, and who may be a “dark horse that no one’s talking about enough.”

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.