October 27, 2005 |
Twenty-five years ago, when Philadelphia City Council President George X. Schwartz was caught up in the Abscam bribery sting, a freshman councilman was his most vocal critic. "Why'd you take the money, George?" John F. Street demanded, jabbing his finger at the tainted pol. Under pressure from Street, Schwartz stepped down from the presidency upon indictment. He quit entirely when he was convicted. Today, with another councilman accused of taking bribes, the reaction is startlingly different.
October 26, 2005 |
It's been more than 14 years since a member of Philadelphia City Council was indicted on criminal charges of any kind. By local standards, that's quite a while. Council's modern history is replete with indictments for taking bribes, attempting extortion, and taking more bribes. In fact, Rick Mariano, accused yesterday of trading favors for money, is the seventh sitting Council member since the mid-1970s to be formally charged with abusing his office. He joins a list of names that includes Isadore "Izzy" Bellis; the Abscam trio of George X. Schwartz, Harry P. Jannotti and Louis C. Johanson; Leland M. Beloff; and James J. Tayoun.
July 20, 2005 |
Just how tough was the 10-year sentence given former Philadelphia Treasurer Corey Kemp? Tough enough to surpass those meted out in recent memory to many local and national public officials swept up in public corruption scandals. Take ex-Camden Mayor Milton Milan. In 2001, he was sent to federal prison for seven years for taking payoffs from the mob and laundering drug money. He's in prison in Loretto, Pa. - also the temporary home of former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, who is serving one year for accepting $107,000 in charter flights and vacations, in exchange for access.
November 16, 2004
Former Congressman Thomas M. Foglietta, who died unexpectedly Saturday at age 75, was an honest and gracious gentleman who was at his finest when championing Philadelphia. In a town still trying to live down its reputation for employing public officials who prompt federal corruption investigations, Foglietta was different. Quite appropriately, it was Foglietta, the former councilman, who in 1980 defeated U.S. Rep. Michael "Ozzie" Myers, a convicted Abscam crook. When his South Philadelphia district later changed to include primarily minority voters, Foglietta still won reelection, addressing urban issues important to city residents.
September 25, 2004
The young John Street surely wouldn't have tolerated all the stonewalling the current mayor of Philadelphia is doing about a payment received in 1998 that appears to have been unethical, if not illegal. As a fiery young freshman councilman, John F. Street demanded answers from Council President George X. Schwartz, an FBI target in its 1980 Abscam bribery investigation. It didn't matter to Street that Schwartz and two other Council members eventually convicted in Abscam had not yet been charged.
November 20, 2003 |
Michael Francis Comerford, 70, who as night metropolitan editor of The Inquirer orchestrated the coverage of breaking deadline stories from Abscam to the murder of mob boss Angelo Bruno, died Tuesday at Hospice of Port Orange in Daytona Beach Shores, Fla. Mr. Comerford suffered from heart disease. He retired in 1995 after more than 27 years at The Inquirer. Mr. Comerford, nicknamed "the Commodore," possessed a gnarly sense of humor and fierce news judgment that inspired loyalty among his reporters.
May 11, 2003 |
You can take the boy out of South Philadelphia, but you can't take South Philly out of the boy. Back in the '60s, '70s and '80s, Leland Beloff was a Pennsylvania state representative, a Philadelphia city councilman, and a Democratic power broker from that political hotbed. But then, like so many of his fellow pols from that time and place, Beloff did a little prison time, and while he was away for five years, his wife moved the family to the Main Line. So now Beloff - who as a city councilman was convicted in 1987 of conspiring with the mob to extort $1 million from a developer - lives in Gladwyne.
January 20, 2001 |
It is a good deal for both sides, and perhaps for the nation as well. That was the consensus yesterday from a handful of legal scholars, defense lawyers and former prosecutors: The agreement that Bill Clinton revealed on his last full day in office spares him the perils of a criminal indictment - and spares the country a rerun of the most embarrassing scandal of his presidency. "It would be a very unpopular prosecution. The polls have shown that," said Donald J. Goldberg, a Philadelphia defense lawyer and a master plea negotiator.
January 3, 2001 |
In his 12 years as the first African-American president of Philadelphia City Council, Joseph E. Coleman, a soft-spoken chemist with a Temple law degree, presided over a sea change that transformed council from an unruly gang to a body near equal with the mayor. Between 1980, when he became council president after the disaster of the Abscam scandal, and when he retired at the start of Mayor Rendell's first term in 1992, Coleman frustrated two mayors while dramatically expanding council's ability to critique mayoral dreams and schemes.
November 21, 2000 |
Charles Ruff, the scholarly attorney seated in a wheelchair who defended President Clinton during his impeachment in the House and Senate, died Sunday of an apparent heart attack at age 61. "All of us at the White House admired Chuck for the power of his advocacy, the wisdom of his judgment and the strength of his leadership," Clinton said. "We loved him for his generous spirit and his keen wit, which he used to find humor in even the most challenging circumstances. " The President issued the statement aboard Air Force One during the flight back to Washington after his visit to Vietnam.