The Brief: How Jim Kenney Is Like John Belushi

Plus, the problem with real-life cops shooting at cars and a mixed PA school funding report card.


1. The inside story of how the Jim Kenney campaign started with nothing and won with 56 percent of the vote.

The gist: When Jim Kenney launched his last-minute mayoral campaign, he started the race with just $75,000 and a 14 point deficit, according to internal polling. “It felt like The Blues Brothers,” Kenney campaign strategist Ken Snyder told the Inquirer’s Chris Hepp. ‘It’s dark out, we’re wearing sunglasses and we’re out of gas. Let’s hit it.’ ” Snyder and Kenney pollster Anna Greenberg look back on the unlikely Kenney rout in this piece by Hepp. Some of the key nuggets here: the campaign initially was at times more worried about Lynne Abraham than Anthony Williams, the Dwight Evans‘ endorsement was in fact just as central to Kenney’s victory as the news coverage at the time suggested, and Kenney’s staff was baffled that it took so long for Williams to go negative.

What it means: Let’s stretch Snyder’s analogy past the breaking point, because why not. Kenney’s campaign team here is, collectively, Dan Aykroyd. Obviously. This late-starting campaign was a sprint from the start, and from the moment Kenney got into the contest, it was a high-speed car chase to the finish. Kenney’s team, aka Aykroyd did some really nifty driving. Kenney, meanwhile, is John Belushi. He’s sitting in the passenger’s seat very calmly, very quietly, occasionally raising an eyebrow. And behind them, chasing Kenney? A bunch of campaigns that kind of look like this:

Screenshot 2015-06-08 07.05.02

2. A progressive education organization gives Pennsylvania intriguing mixed grade on school funding.

The gist: The New Jersey-based Education Law Center gave Pennsylvania an A for “effort” in total school funding, but a “D” for the way it distributes education spending, reports the Daily News.

Why it matters: Critics of increased state spending on schools might seize on this report card as evidence that there are plenty of resources going toward education in Pennsylvania. But this report examines not just commonwealth funding, but local funding — and that where the problems with spending equity come in. Averaged out, when both the state and local governments are taken into account, Pennsylvania is spending eighth most nationwide on education. The problem is that, in the real world, that spending is not averaged out, nor is it allocated based on need as well as it should be.

That’s created a real paradox in Pennsylvania: it’s a state where overall public spending on schools is quite high, but many districts lack the resources for even the basics.

3. Since 2002, Philadelphia police have shot at 43 vehicles and killed eight people, largely in violation of policy.

The gist: The Inquirer this Sunday had a deep look at a narrow slice of the hugely important police/community relationship story: the disturbing numbers of incidents where cops have fired on moving vehicles. Writes the Inquirer:

Not only is shooting at a moving car almost always against Philadelphia police regulations — even a car coming toward officers, which is what several of them testified was happening that day.

It’s also extremely dangerous, experts say. And it rarely works.

But since 2002, Philadelphia police officers have shot 43 people in vehicles, killing eight of them, an Inquirer review of confidential police investigations has found. That has cost the city $5.8 million.

Why it matters: Philadelphia’s Police Department is under intense scrutiny, as are most other big city police departments these days. Bravo to the Inquirer’s Mark Fazlollah and Dylan Purcell for zooming in on one particularly dangerous practice. As they write:

Shooting at moving vehicles works a lot better on the big screen than in real life.

Thomas Streed, a behavioral scientist and former San Diego homicide detective, put it this way:

“You fire a bullet, and it will not stop the car. And if you hit the driver, now you’ve got a worse problem.”

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