Councilman Says Prosecutor Owed Election To War Disability
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The district attorney has demanded an apology from a city councilman who said the prosecutor won his election only because he lost a leg fighting in Vietnam.
″Put a leg on Ron Castille and you have just another Vietnam veteran. Take his leg off and you have a Vietnam hero,″ Councilman James J. Tayoun told reporters Friday. ″If he had two legs, he would have never beaten his opponent for D.A.″
Tayoun’s remark was made following a news conference to respond to Castille’s call for Tayoun’s ouster from the chairmanship of the council’s committee on licensing and inspections.
Tayoun, as a restaurant owner and former lobbyist, has had extensive dealings with the panel. He is currently fighting two Licenses and Inspections citations in court, including one for building an illegal outdoor cafe at his restaurant.
Castille, a former Marine Corps lieutenant who lost his leg after being ambushed in a rice paddy in Vietnam, said Tayoun’s remark was ″a slur on all disabled veterans.″ He said he had written Tayoun demanding an apology.
Tayoun refused to apologize to Castille, but later said his ″remark was in bad taste″ and was never intended as a slight to veterans.
Tayoun also maintained that Castille, elected in 1985, should apologize to him for demanding that he be removed as head of the City Council committee. He charged Castille ″besmirched my reputation″ during last fall’s council race in which Tayoun, a Democrat, defeated the Republican candidate whom Castille, a Republican, had supported.
″When he sends me a letter, I’ll apologize,″ Tayoun said. ″It was an off-the-cuff remark.″
Mayor W. Wilson Goode has also expressed concern about the appearance of a conflict of interest in Tayoun’s appointment by Council President Joseph Coleman to the committee chairmanship. Coleman said Friday he would not take the post away from Tayoun.
During the news conference, Tayoun, who was on the City Council for eight years before leaving to run unsuccessfully for Congress in 1984, said he was angered by suggestions he might misuse his public office.
After most of the reporters had left the room, Tayoun made the personal references to Castille and his disability, according to three reporters who were present.
Doug Schlatter, a reporter for radio station WHYY-FM, said he later asked Tayoun about the remark. Tayoun responded he had just been ″thinking out loud″ and would deny the remark if it became public, Schlatter said.
Castille, in a letter addressed to Tayoun, wrote:
″Not only are those remarks personally offensive, but they also slur disabled veterans who have served their country in times of conflict.
″I call upon you to issue an immediate public apology to those veterans who risked life and limb in defense of their nation. I will await your apology.″