It was the Weinberg camp's first attack on Street and a signal that Weinberg could become more aggressive in the final six weeks of the primary campaign.
Standing in front of the 26th Police District office on Girard Avenue in Fishtown, Costello said Street had a ``political will opposed to law enforcement. . . . If nothing else, [Street] has remained consistently in opposition to the interests of crime enforcement and the fight that we're waging out there on the streets.''
Costello said Street did not increase police budgets while he was City Council president; came up with an impractical plan to use retired officers to wage the war on drugs; and ``donated'' City Council chambers to a group that supported Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in Center City in 1981.
Weinberg echoed those criticisms.
``I believe that Mr. Street, as enunciated by Richard Costello, could have done more to support police,'' he said. ``I do not believe that Mr. Street has been out there with positions that have been consistent with support of the Philadelphia police.''
In a later interview at his campaign headquarters at Juniper and Arch Streets, Street answered the Weinberg campaign.
He said he did allow the National Commission on Capital Punishment, a public-interest group opposed to the death penalty, to conduct a hearing in Council chambers in March 1996 because ``we cannot censor people.'' He said that using auxiliary police to patrol for drugs was a ``valid idea,'' and that the Police Department budget did not rise significantly during his years as Council president because the city was in a financial crisis.
``This sort of signals that maybe Mr. Weinberg and his people are getting a little bit nervous,'' Street said. ``They've spent an awful lot of money on television. They don't seem to be making the progress I'm sure they would like to make. This smacks of a little desperation, in my mind.''
Nervous or not, Weinberg followed a rigid script at his Fishtown news conference. Before it started, a cadre of aides whisked him inside the police district office to apply makeup. The aides asked Costello if he wanted some makeup, too, but he declined. The last time he wore anything even approximating makeup, Costello said, was when he was a teenager and needed acne medication.
Also at the news conference, Weinberg said he would issue some sort of a public-safety plan this week.
The FOP endorsed Weinberg March 23 but did not have a camera crew present at the event. The Weinberg campaign is not saying when the ad filmed yesterday will run or whether it will be critical of Street.
``If you're going to go after Street, clearly, it isn't going to be wasted on just a press conference,'' said Weinberg spokesman Bill Miller. ``Clearly, there's enough good material out there.''