The firing of the country's highest ranking black woman in state government has stirred up a mix of political and racial disquiet here that hasn't settled one week after the fact.
When C. DeLores Tucker, 50 who has been repeatedly honored by national publications and political woman's groups, was dismissed from the Cabinet of Gov. Milton J. Shapp Sept. 21 for alleged wrong, it was charged a double standard had been used to discard a showpiece no longer needed.
Tucker claimed she had been hatcheted for refusing to go along with an unspecified political power play.
Her dismissal sparked an outburst of support from state and national black leaders.Almost a thousand people attended a rally in Philadelphia a week ago and Shapp met with a delegation of blacks over the issue last Monday.
Under pressure and veiled accusations of racism. Shapp said he would reconsider Tucker's firing, but finally reaffirmed his orginal decision.
At a press conference he said the firing was made without political consideration.
Tuesday, Tucker made her first public appearance here since the firing, and told a rally of about 500 persons that the Shpp administration has covered up the real reasons for her dismissal. She said, howere, that her lawyer has advised her not to discuss specifics of the affair.
Although Shapp, a liberal, has a civil rights record generally viewed as good, there is talk now that he might have cost his party its traditional black support and votes in next year's gubernational election. (Shapp. in his second term, cannot run again.) And the state's 15-member black legislative caucus has threatened to withhold support from an administration tax increase plan.
Many of the questions about the dismissal stem from the fact that it was handled in a manner uncharacteristic of the Shapp administration.
Tucker has been accused of improperly using her office of common wealth secretary for personal gain. The state's attorney general, a shapp appointee and former campaign manager, says she used state workers and facilities in earning $65,000 in speaking fees during a 28-month period. The case has been referred to local prosecutors.
The Shapp administration now has lost seven Cabinet members who have resigned or been fired after they have been accused of criminal conduct. Four of these seven have been indicted, largely on the strength of federal investigations. Dozens of other high state officials have been charged with crimes since Shapp took office in 1971.
Howere, the Tucker case is one of the few that was developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Justice. And while other Shapp appointees accused of wrongdoing have been permitted to remain on the state payroll, in some cases while under federal indictment. Tucker was fired outright and in the absence of formal criminal charges.
Moreover, her supporters note that the issue that has led to her firing was aired tow years ago that after appearing before a state Senate panel for questioning on the issue, she was confirmed to a second Cabinet term by a 47-to-0 vote.
The timing of her dismissal also has been questioned. Despite the fact that her outside activities have been known to Shapp since at least 1974, she was called beck from a Puerto Rico meeting of the national Association of Secretaries of State. She was to have been named president of the group Sept. 22, the day after she lost her firing was timed to ensure "the maximum embarrasment and humiliation."
In her only public statement since her dismissal. Tucker also charged she was victimized by political enemies and a "power hungry gang" of Shapp allies. She had indicated persons close to the governor are looking to control the state's election machinery which her former office oversees.
She did not elaborate, and, since her statement, been advised by counsel to remain silent.
Tucker is a native of Philadelphia and the daughter of a Baptist minister. She has been a highly visible member of the Democratic administration here for more than six years.