For High Court: Nigro, Musmanno

Posted: October 20, 1995

No matter who is elected to the two open slots, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is on its way up.

Of course, it has only one direction to go, since the court hit rock-bottom a while back and stayed there with the conviction and impeachment last year of Justice Rolf Larsen.

And he is not the only justice criticized - indeed, the entire court has suffered from a reputation for inaction and lapses in, if you will, judgment.

Vacancies would be improvements over Larsen and retired Justice Nicholas Papadakos. But fortunately for the citizens of Pennsylvania, there are two excellent candidates in Democrats Russell Nigro and John L. Musmanno.

We enthusiastically support Nigro, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge highly regarded for streamlining the operations of the city's courts.

Nigro is a rare blend of legal acumen and down-to-earth understanding. He understands citizen concerns about crime, but resists simplistic solutions. He attempts to educate voters about the complexities involved in the law, rather than pander to them. That he is from Philadelphia is a definite plus.

Musmanno, a Common Pleas judge in Allegheny County and administrative judge of its civil division, has similar breadth of experience. He has served 25 years on the bench, as a district justice, and in Common Pleas' criminal, family, and civil divisions.

Republican Michael J. Barrasse, district attorney of Lackawanna County, in our opinion - and that of the state bar association - does not have enough experience for the top court.

The Supreme Court race this year is getting unusual notice. The reason is Sandra Schultz Newman, who saturated the airwaves with ads for her race two years ago for Commonwealth Court and is doing the same this year.

Experts say the ads will win the race; they cost her our endorsement.

Appeals like "We don't want the same kind of politicians who are fooling around with our Medicare to start fooling around with our courts" are a less than forthright attempt to mix irrelevant issues with qualifications for the Supreme Court. We think Newman knows better. If she should win, we hope she acts on what she knows.

Pennsylvanians would do well if Russell Nigro and John L. Musmanno fill the two vacancies on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

KRAJEWSKI IN THE 6TH

Thomas W. Crone says Joan Krajewski has been in office too long. No surprise: He'd like to be her successor on City Council.

In 16 years, says the Republican candidate, Krajewski has "forgotten why she's there." She has turned her back on the blue-collar neighborhoods she is supposed to represent, he says, by yielding to special interests in her zeal for re-election.

She is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, but as vice chairman of City Council's public safety committee, Crone asks, "What's she doing to make streets safer?" She is backed by labor, Crone adds, but what has she done about jobs leaving the city?

Crone, son of a police officer, is a young paralegal. He knows his chances of an upset are slim, but he is working hard, and it's frustrating. Not only won't Krajewski accept his challenge to a debate, he laments, but "she won't even look me in the eye when she sees me," and she never answers his calls.

We admire Crone's enthusiasm and understand his distress, but there's really no reason for voters in the 6th District to turn Joan Krajewski out of office. She is smart, tough and, despite Crone's charges, dedicated to constituent service. She deserves re-election.

But Councilwoman, be kind. Return the guy's calls, won't you?

CHILDWATCH

Social Security disability payments - about $462 a month - enable low- income Philadelphia families to provide care at home for 10,500 severely disabled children.

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