Other neighborhoods have had their own politicians in trouble, but nowhere else has had so many snouts caught feeding at the public trough. There have been, and continue to be, honest representatives of the people from downtown. But public corruption here has been too often greeted with a what-do-you-expect shrug, an understanding that taking money for yourself is not stealing, but rather part of the job description. It's the new leather coat that everyone wants to put his arms in.
Consider the diversity of the eight found guilty: Italian, Irish, black, Jewish and Lebanese. Consider some of the charges against them: bribery, tax fraud, vote fraud, cigarette smuggling, and ghost employees.
So why so many, and why in South Philly?
One of the eight, the late State Sen. Henry J. "Buddy" Cianfrani, once offered an explanation that cast the best light possible on downtown politicians. Fumo, as a young man, worked in his office.
"South Philly politicians think nothing of adjusting people's traffic tickets," Cianfrani said. "South Philly politicians think it's nothing to go to Harrisburg to straighten out somebody's driver's license. Public servants don't do that in other parts of the city, so South Philly people make themselves vulnerable."
Martin Weinberg, former head of the city Democratic Party, and, like Cianfrani, son of an elected official from South Philadelphia, was also once asked about all the convicted officials from South Philadelphia. His explanation illuminated South Philadelphia officials more harshly:
"In the old days, you didn't take any money, the vote was the exchange. When people got to a point where they were saying, 'Hey, wait a minute, I'm not getting coal for people, I'm making money for people. If I'm making money for people, I'm going to get a piece of that money.'
"Forget about the morality of the situation, that was bad enough, but . . . after having so many people caught, you would think that you would say, 'Hey, wait a minute.' "
Historically, South Philadelphia - the area south of South Street and between the two rivers - has been more about service than issues. It was home in the early and mid-1800s to Irish immigrants and African Americans, the two poorest populations in the city. Yellow fever and smallpox ravaged the neighborhood. Philadelphia's first gangs started here, and the streets were full of pigs, chickens and excrement.
Later in the 1800s, Polish, Italian and Jewish immigrants filled the neighborhood, but the mayors of the city still paid little attention to the land south of South Street. Filling that vacuum were local politicians. The neighborhood was Democratic until the Civil War. Republicans held sway from the 1870s to the late 1940s. Then Democrats returned to the power that they still possess downtown today. Only the names of the newest immigrants - Mexicans and Southeast Asians - have changed.
Murray Dubin is a retired reporter for The Inquirer.
Murray Dubin is the author of "South Philadelphia: Mummers, Memories and the Melrose Diner." He was born and grew up in South Philadelphia and once played halfball with a kid who went on to become a convicted politician.