Editorials

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

If someone already has an STD, s/he has an increased chance of getting HIV over someone who is STD-free, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s because the behaviors that put someone at risk for an STD (not using condoms, multiple/anonymous partners) can elevate the risk for HIV. An STD-related sore or break in the skin also facilitates HIV entering the body.

This week, we report on a possible breakthrough in HIV research that may help researchers pinpoint elusive, infected cells. Thirty-three Philadelphians are going to participate in a $26-million study led by the Wistar Institute that could impact HIV research globally.

The question for HIV researchers these days is why the virus returns after therapy is stopped. The new study will look for clues to find those latent cells that roar back after therapy. If the cells could be pinpointed, it would allow medical professionals to go down and target a specific area, rather than the scorched-earth treatments that affect the entire body.

What all this means is that, while people with HIV live longer and better, it remains a deadly and unpredictable virus. Younger people who did not live through the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s did not see the effect a rampant virus had on a generation. That does not make HIV/AIDS any less dangerous today. Hence the need for more and better information for the public, not only the risks but what it means to be diagnosed.

In a recent interview with PGN, Antar Bush, the education coordinator for the Department of Health in Philadelphia working on STD prevention, recounted a story while doing testing in a mobile clinic: “We were parked by one of the clubs trying to convince people to get tested. There was one young guy visiting from Ohio, he’d just come here to visit his friends and have a good time, and I really pressured him to get tested before he went into the club. He tested positive, and I felt so terrible having to give him the news. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I told him. He was only 21, and so young and carefree.”

Carefree no more. More education, more testing and more of a presence in the community are needed to stop HIV before it starts.

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