This story was originally published Jan. 30, 1996.
She's smart, she's experienced, she's a size 4 and she's out of work.
Stylish Republican Councilwoman at-large Joan Specter lost her seat in November to Franny Rizzo – proving only that the Rizzo name has more political potency in Philadelphia than the Specter name.
During her 16-year tenure, Specter operated a successful pie business, offered legislation that was ignored by the Democrats but sometimes later adopted and generally comported herself in a dignified way despite ridicule from oafish members of the majority party.
She has lobbied for an education liaison post in the Rendell administration, but the mayor's people have dithered, nervous about giving Specter a soapbox or harboring doubts that such a job is necessary.
So the Daily News is stepping in to help. We turned to the top patronage brokers in Pennsylvania. The question was simple: "What can you do for Joan? " Here's what they said:
VITO CANUSO JR., chairman of the Republican City Committee. This seemed like a logical place to start, though Michael Meehan, Billy Meehan's heir, is the real string-puller. Michael, however, won't call us back.
But Canuso wasn't much help. Jobs that match Specter's experience usually don't go through the City Committee, he said.
"Jobs of that level, the governor or the mayor make their own picks," Canuso explained.
Canuso says the jobs he can help with generally are in the janitor or toll collector category. Toll collectors on the Delaware River Port Authority make $37,500 a year. That's a step down from Specter's $65,000 Council salary, but the uniform would save on clothing expenses.
DAVID GIRARD DICARLO, top Philly lawyer, close pal to Republican Gov. Ridge and powerbroker for the state administration, said the corporate board should be Joan's next stop.
Someone who has held public office, is married to public office, once ran a business and is a woman to boot would be quite a catch, he says.
"Someone like Joan who has a demonstrated background with business and government is likely to be very valuable to corporations seeking board members who know how to meet a balance sheet and who know issues," diCarlo said.
He added that serving on multiple boards with fees ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars each (or higher), each meeting four or five times a year and demanding work on committees, could offer plenty to do and plenty of pay.
Specter may be a Republican, but Democratic chairman BOB BRADY says her talents cross party lines. He ticked off her qualifications: "She's a pretty classy lady; she has the career behind her that qualifies her for walking in the room" and "the lady can stand on her own two feet. "
Brady suggests that Specter would make a "good public relations type of person. You would want her to go to meetings. "
A good place for Specter might be with a utility like Philadelphia Gas Works or Peco, Brady said.
"I would hire a senator's wife in a heartbeat," says Brady. "You'd be crazy not to. "
THOMAS LEONARD, state finance chairman for President Clinton, is also willing to help.
"She's enormously talented and was a good councilwoman and would have no trouble landing with a federal agency if that's what she wants to do," he says.
But Leonard was short on specifics. Asked about the local Department of Education office, he noted that post was already filled by ex-Mayor Wilson Goode. "It's a small office, I don't know if there's an opening," he said.
Leonard said he'd try for something "in the ombudsman or liaison role to take advantage of her people skills and knowledge of government."
In case Clinton loses re-election, we thought it wise to check in with CHARLIE KOPP, GOP rainmaker at powerhouse law firm of Wolf, Block, Solis-Cohen. Kopp is state chairman of Bob Dole's presidential campaign.
"I would recommend strongly that Joan be offered something" if Dole is elected president, Kopp said. "My thought would be for her to let us know what areas she would be interested in, then see if we could match up her suggestions with our needs."