Editorials

The LGBT State of the Union brought together local leaders of the city’s most active and well-respected organizations to engage in candid conversation. Perhaps more importantly, the large-scale community meeting, opened by Mayor Jim Kenney, got people off-line and interacting in person. That might be one of the reasons the event was a hit.

Montgomery County’s Hatboro City Council passed an ordinance this week that ensures residents are protected from discrimination based not only on their sexual and gender identities, but also on their race, physical ability, age and religion.

Malcolm Kenyatta earned an overwhelming victory late Tuesday in the primary race to represent North Philadelphia and, by all accounts, it was because of his years as a steadfast community advocate and organizer with an inclusive, progressive platform. Kenyatta also happens to be gay.

This is not a secret, but it became fodder for a last-ditch smear campaign early Tuesday when fliers began appearing across North Philadelphia showing a photo of Kenyatta with his former husband on their wedding day crossed out in red with the text SAY NO!!!!! Kenyatta told PGN Tuesday, the day he should be focusing on getting elected, he was out pulling the fliers off cars and other areas of the 181st District.

The voters weren’t buying it. Kenyatta, whose distant cousin held the seat for 15 terms and is now retiring, won by a landslide 42 percent. Lewis C. Nash, a North Philadelphia pastor who finished second, earned 27 percent of the vote.

Kenyatta is the grandson of political pioneer Muhammad Kenyatta, who ran for Philadelphia mayor in 1975. But young Kenyatta grew up in the projects with a belief that the future for his home district could be better. It’s not a question of possibility; it’s a question of resources, he says. To that end, he has spent his 20s organizing protests, speaking out for the marginalized, attending block cleanups and vigils. He earned his victory.

PGN spoke with nearly half a dozen voters across North Philadelphia, all of whom said that Kenyatta was a man of the community, for the community. We couldn’t agree more. 

PGN’s endorsements for the Democrats in Tuesday’s primary elections include:

Governor: Tom Wolf

Lt. Gov.: No endorsement

Senate: Bob Casey

Congress:
Brendan Boyle, Second District  
Dwight Evans, Third District  
Madeleine Dean, Fourth District
Rich Lazar, Fifth District
Chrissy Houlahan, Sixth District

State Senate:
Tina Tartaglione, Second District
Art Harwood, Fourth District
Tina Davis, Sixth District

State House districts:
181: Malcolm Kenyatta
182: Brian Sims
175: Mike O’Brien
177: Joe Hohenstein
184: Elizabeth Fiedler
188: James Roebuck
191: Joanna McClinton
194: Pam Delissio
197: Danilo Burgos
200: Chris Rabb

This week, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran an article headlined, “Sheriff sale ads: A bonanza for the politically connected in Philly.” The paper is the city’s second-largest recipient of sheriff’s ads, at $1,613,157, only behind the Legal Intelligencer at $1,812,244 annually.

The articled conflated two issues: the private-contractor system by which sheriff’s ads are placed in Philadelphia-area publications, and the fact that minority news organizations receive those same ads.

PGN places sheriff’s ads in its pages through a relationship with political operative and ad broker Ken Smuckler. The Inquirer did not disclose its own relationship with Smuckler and his connection to Gerry Lenfest, the Inquirer’s funder.   

But most important is how the Inquirer exploits a 1976 law for which it lobbied to enhance the paper’s own profits at the expense of minority and LGBT media.  

The Inquirer benefits from the law, which requires that sheriff’s ads be placed in a general-interest newspaper and a local legal publication. But circulation rates in that general-interest paper have declined over the years and, in its place, smaller news outlets targeting specific populations have filled in the gaps of local, independent journalism, all while remaining profitable (as PGN is).

The substance of the Inquirer’s article looking at whether middle brokers are needed to replace ads is undermined by the snarky and dismissive tone the reporters used toward multicultural media outlets.

Despite the overwhelming advantages enshrined in the law, the Inquirer’s current survival is sustained not by paying customers, but by Lenfest literally donating The Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com to the Institute for Journalism in New Media so that it can receive funding beyond the sheriff’s ads.

PGN survives by its journalism. Why can’t the Inquirer? n

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