Donation, apology helps judge keep seat

PHILADELPHIA. Municipal Judge Craig Washington, who sought a third term in Tuesday’s election and the $153,798 annual salary that comes with it, faced staunch opposition from the city’s police union for his controversial removal of a slain officer’s photo from his courtroom earlier this year.

So in the months before the election, his campaign reached out to Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby to make amends, McNesby said yesterday, a day after Washington was retained by voters along with every other judge.

Washington eventually apologized to the widow of Officer John Pawlowski and also agreed to pay $10,000 to a local police benefits fund at the behest of Kim Pawlowski.

“After that meeting, I had met with Kim and she asked if we [would] let it go away,” McNesby said. “We didn’t encourage anyone to vote for him. But we made sure the family’s wishes were carried out.”

McNesby said he was still disappointed Washington, who could not be reached for comment, was retained by voters and said he is confident the FOP could have achieved what is seldom done in Philadelphia — get voters to reject retaining a judge. All 19 received approval in a process that requires a simple “yes” or “no” vote on the ballot.

“If we had actively gone out on TV and radio, the message would have gotten out,” McNesby said, who said Washington’s money went to either the Hero Thrill Show, which is administered by the FOP, or a fund for bulletproof vests. “Unfortunately, he’s there again.”