MELROSE PLACE: Munchers Mull Fumo & OPM; Old Man Threatens To Kick Reporter’s Ass Into Next Week

By Alfred Lubrano Inquirer Staff Writer South Philly was churning yesterday, the natives at turns delighted and dejected. The loud and conspicuous opera that is currently the life of the newly indicted State Sen. Vincent J.melrose.jpg Fumo elicited sympathy and enmity, loyalty and spite.

During lunch at the Melrose Diner, prime rib and eggplant were the specials, but at least one customer at the counter was chewing on Fumo, savoring the taste of a man who might be cooked.

“Everybody’s day comes, and I do revel in it a bit,” said Randy Dezii, an investment counselor who has done business with Fumo. “What goes around comes around. After what he’s done, there should be a price to pay.

Dizzied by allegations that Fumo lived by a cynical, self-serving code – that, in the indictment’s words, “a person is best advised to spend ‘other people’s money’ ” – a married couple in a booth with their 4-year-old daughter struggled to stay true to their troubled local hero.

“Until we know the facts, most of South Philly is going to give Vince Fumo the benefit of the doubt,” said Mark Andrilla, 37, a local mortgage broker. “He’s done good for the neighborhood. He seems gentle, a regular guy.”

“He’s been our powerhouse for so long,” said his wife, Stephanie, 35, stabbing at a salad with light dressing. “This whole thing is overblown.” Then she added, quietly, “But the OPM [other people’s money] thing is upsetting. And shocking.”

Outside the diner, an 85-year-old man who swore he’d beat anyone who’d print his name in the newspaper piped up for Fumo.

He said that if Fumo or his colleagues used money from his neighborhood charity, Citizens’ Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, to feather his nest with items like 17 Oreck vacuum cleaners, as prosecutors have alleged, then it’s simply business as usual.

“That’s the general run of politics,” said the man. “That’s the way it works, kid.” Ultimately, he said, it’s the media’s fault for making much ado about very little. “The Inquirer has sensationalized this story too much,” he said. “The Inquirer even dramatizes the weather.”

INQUIRER: A Constituency Of Haters & Enablers

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