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Philadelphia Mayor, GOP Foe Hold Debate

October 22, 2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Two weeks after an FBI bug was found in the mayor’s office, Republican mayoral candidate Sam Katz condemned the administration of incumbent John Street as corrupt and said it’s ``time to end″ what he called a pay-for-play system.

``All that has gone on in the last couple of weeks puts an exclamation point on basically 100 years of Philadelphia being a city corrupt and contented,″ Katz said Thursday night during a live television debate.

Street continued to maintain that he has done nothing wrong and attacked Katz, a financial consultant, for being less than forthcoming about his own business dealings.

After 25 years in public service, Street said, ``It’s not until the last couple of weeks that anybody ... raised any question at all about my integrity.″

Street and his supporters have suggested that the FBI bug was planted as part of a Republican scheme to disrupt the election and harass a prominent black official. U.S. Reps. Robert A. Brady, Chaka Fatta and Joseph Hoeffel, all Philadelphia Democrats who support Street, have demanded a meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft on Wednesday to discuss the investigation.

The FBI has said that the hidden listening devices _ discovered in Street’s office a month before the Nov. 4 election _ were not connected to the campaign, but declined to release further details. Federal agents have since raided a number of city offices and subpoenaed thousands of pages of records.

The election is a rematch of 1999, when Street beat Katz by fewer than 10,000 votes out of nearly 440,000 cast in the closest mayoral contest in decades.

A poll released last week, and taken after the FBI bugging became public, had Street with 48 percent of likely voters to Katz’s 41 percent. In the same poll a month ago, Katz led 46 percent to 40 percent. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus five percent.

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