Krajewski Announces Bid For Council Helm

Posted: November 07, 1987

City Councilwoman Joan L. Krajewski yesterday announced a bid to unseat Joseph E. Coleman as Council president and lashed out at Council Republicans, who this week virtually ensured Coleman's retention by throwing him their support.

"We cannot allow this city to continue the way it has under the leadership of Joe Coleman," Krajewski said. "Where are Councilman Longstreth's principles?"

Krajewski was responding to the announcement Thursday that W. Thacher Longstreth and Council's two other Republicans - who have often criticized Coleman's leadership - were supporting his bid to retain the presidency.

With seven Democrats already pledged to Coleman, the endorsements of Republicans Longstreth, Brian J. O'Neill and Joan Specter apparently give Coleman more than the nine votes needed for re-election when the new Council votes on the presidency in January.

The GOP's decision to back Coleman, the Council president since 1981, also ended months of speculation that Council Republicans might join with discontented Democrats to oust Coleman - or at least force him to redistribute the power that is now concentrated in the hands of a few Council Democrats. Besides Krajewski, the Council member most often mentioned as a possible challenger to Coleman has been Augusta A. Clark, a close ally of U.S. Rep. William H. Gray 3d.

Clark refused to say Thursday whether she was running for Coleman's post. ''I've thought about it," she said. "I just don't think this is the time to confirm or deny anything." She did not return a reporter's calls yesterday.

Longstreth, explaining the Republicans' decision, said, "Joe Coleman has treated us very fairly. While he was found wanting in many ways, we decided he was the best person available and that we should go with the person we knew rather than support any new leadership."

Longstreth also rebutted a suggestion by Krajewski and others that Republican boss William A. Meehan had traded the GOP votes for a committee chairmanship on Council or for other compensation.

"There was no quid pro quo," Longstreth said. "We gave him (Coleman) our votes without compensation."

Meehan, reached by telephone yesterday at his vacation home in Florida, said in jest: "I'll tell you what the deal was. I got 172 jobs, two scholarships, 2,000 tickets to the zoo and two extra holidays."

" . . . I know you're not going to believe me, but we didn't get anything," Meehan said after he stopped laughing. "I talked to Joan and Thacher and Brian, and they said Joe has been fair, and that was good enough for me."

Meehan said he told Coleman of the GOP endorsement on Thursday afternoon, when Coleman paid a "courtesy call" to request Meehan's support. "We never at any time discussed a quid pro quo," Meehan said. "I said, 'Joe, I'm for you. That should make it easy. You don't have to sell out.' "

Coleman said yesterday that he was grateful for the GOP endorsement, but added, "I don't know if I have it sewn up. I'm just trying to get as many votes as I can. I'll do the counting later."

Other Council members, however, said that the GOP endorsement virtually locks Coleman's bid to retain Council's most powerful position for another term.

"I know for a fact that Joe Coleman will be re-elected, barring some incident or miracle," said Majority Whip Lucien E. Blackwell, chairman of Council's Finance Committee. "There's no one here that can beat Joe Coleman for the presidency."

Blackwell's assessment was shared by Appropriations Chairman John F. Street, another of Council's "Big Four" - a group that includes Coleman, Blackwell and Rules Committee Chairman David Cohen.

"I think it's a big mistake," Street said of Krajewski's decision to challenge Coleman. "She's putting herself in a position where it may be difficult for people to cooperate with her in the future." Street said Coleman "has been about as fair as anybody can be" as Council president.

In announcing her candidacy, Krajewski painted a different picture of Coleman's leadership, criticizing him for creating a "closed Council" on which "only a few select members run things."

Krajewski also suggested that her election as president would provide a "a balance" that would "bring this city back together" after a racially divisive mayoral campaign between Mayor Goode and Frank L. Rizzo.

"As the majority leader, I have been nothing but a token in Joe Coleman's eyes," Krajewski said. Asked to elaborate, Krajewski said Coleman considered her a "token woman."

Krajewski's harshest words, however, were reserved for the Republicans, who she said targeted her for defeat in her white-ethnic Council district by portraying her as part of the "Goode-Coleman-Krajewski team."

"Councilman Longstreth started the Fund for Philadelphia to oust all members of City Council and change the leadership," Krajewski said. "Well, now where is Councilman Longstreth? . . . Where are his principles?"

Meehan acknowledged that Republican leaders have "had our differences with Joe Coleman." But he added, "If Joan Krajewski is the alternative, I'd say we made a good choice."

Council elects a president every four years. In addition to the three sitting Republicans, Coleman has the support of Street, Blackwell, Cohen, Anna Cibotti Verna, Francis W. Rafferty and Ann J. Land - giving him 10 votes, including his own. Council's six other members and members-elect have not publicly committed to a candidate. They are incumbents Clark, Angel L. Ortiz and newly elected members George R. Burrell Jr., Marian B. Tasco, James J. Tayoun and Jack Kelly.

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