The Brief: Why No One in Philly Smokes Anymore
1. Philly’s smoking rate has fallen to a record low.
The gist: CBS3 reports that “the percentage of adult Philadelphians who smoke has dropped from 27.3 percent in 2008 to 22.4 percent in 2014-15, according to data from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey.” Even more impressive: A drop took place among all ethnicities and socioeconomic groups in the city, and it happened after smoking rates went up in 2000 and 2008. Also, the recent smoking rate doesn’t factor in the full impact of Philly’s new cigarette tax, which has likely caused smoking to become even less common.
Why it matters: This is yet another victory for Mayor Michael Nutter, and another reason the city will probably miss him when he’s gone. Nutter has made helping residents kick the habit a priority, pushing for the city’s smoking ban in restaurants and bars as a Councilman, and then signing an executive order to prohibit smoking in parks as mayor. He also advocated for the cigarette tax.
2. A state government shutdown is looming.
The gist: By law, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers are supposed to agree on a new budget for Pennsylvania by the end of the day. How likely is that? Well, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Angela Couloumbis and Madison Russ wrote that the logjam between Wolf and GOP legislators “seems certain to end in a partial government shutdown.” Plus:
On Monday, Wolf sent letters to state employees and contractors preparing them for the likely outcome of Pennsylvania’s missing Wednesday’s deadline to enact a spending plan for the new fiscal year. Though missing the deadline by a few days — or even weeks — would not have repercussions, a protracted impasse would restrict the state’s ability to spend and pay bills.
Why it matters: Wolf’s predecessor, Gov. Tom Corbett, often considered signing a budget on time to be a top priority. Wolf has signaled that, like former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, he sees passing his legislative agenda as more important than meeting a deadline. Will Wolf be successful, though, or just piss off state workers? Time will tell.
3. Is the Philly media giving “free advertising” to Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney?
The gist: Last week, the Inquirer ran a story on Kenney’s search for community organizers. The newspaper did no such report on GOP mayoral nominee Melissa Murray Bailey’s summer internship program. That pissed off Philadelphia’s Republican Party. NewsWorks reports that Joe DeFelice, executive director of the city’s GOP, wrote in a post, “We are not asking the local media to do anything outside the norm, rather all we ask is that Melissa be given an equal opportunity to tell her story and share her vision for a better Philadelphia for all neighborhoods and communities.” DeFelice added, “Many in the media like to say that they want a more competitive Republican Party and yearn for a two-party system, however their actions and lack of coverage for our candidates coupled with fluff ad pieces for the opposition, help tilt the playing field even more.”
Why it matters: Do the city’s Republicans have a point? Absolutely. We at Citified generously use the label “presumptive next mayor” to describe Kenney, and we sometimes report on his potential administration as if it’s a given. But the city’s GOP is partly to blame for this phenomenon, too: If the party wants to be taken seriously, it has to run a serious, competitive candidate for mayor. Bailey was, until very recently, registered as a Democrat. She has raised almost no money. That doesn’t mean reporters shouldn’t — or won’t — cover her ideas. They have, and they will likely do so more frequently as the November election nears. But the press would give much more ink to a GOP mayoral candidate with the name Sam Katz, Al Schmidt or Farah Jimenez. Those pols, who are all conservatives, have the chops to at least light a fire under Kenney in the general election.
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