DISTRICT ATTORNEY Seth Williams was at the podium Monday, talking about a grand jury's decision to charge state Rep. J.P. Miranda and his sister in an alleged "ghost employee" scam.

It sounded as if Williams scattered throughout his remarks several thinly veiled, sharply worded barbs for his onetime career mentor, former D.A. Lynne Abraham. Things went south for them in 2005 when he tried to unseat her in the Democratic primary election.

Twice, Williams said his office "will no longer abdicate our responsibility to investigate" political-corruption cases. He also said nobody in his office could remember the last time local prosecutors charged an elected official.

Abraham, who spent 18 years as district attorney, made it a practice to refer potential cases with political entanglements to state or federal prosecutors.

Now mulling a run for mayor in 2015, she said she feels sorry for Williams after all these years.

"He's such an insecure person that he can't stand on his own two feet," she said after we read her some of his comments. "He always has to look to me. If it wasn't so sad, it would be laughable."

Williams, in a statement released later by a spokeswoman, said his comments "were not directed at any particular person."

Abraham is not so impressed with what Williams, who just started his second term, calls "the first small steps in a new investigative effort" by his office.

"Who does he catch in his net?" she asked, referring to Miranda. "This little small fry here."

Abraham then pointed to the section of the district attorney's website listing grand-jury investigations. Eight of the 10 cited were done on her watch. Four involved investigations of government employees.

"If I'm so bad, why is he taking credit for my investigations?" Abraham wondered.

Williams said he's just answering a call for "local prosecutors to take on a bigger role" in fighting public corruption in the city.

"I have nothing but respect and appreciation for all of the hard work that has gone into both previous and current prosecutions at this office," he said. "It's too bad the former D.A. does not."

Three pols & the pope?

President Obama may not be the only politician jetting off to Rome in March to visit the pope.

We hear that Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett may visit the Vatican during the same month.

Corbett's staff says nothing is confirmed. Nutter's staff referred questions to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

"Plans are underway for such a visit, but details are not yet confirmed," said Ken Gavin, an Archdiocese spokesman.

So, what will two Pennsylvania pols have to talk about with Pope Francis? Gavin said Archbishop Charles Chaput asked Nutter and Corbett, honorary co-chairmen of the World Meeting of Families, to make the trip to see the pope.

The eighth edition of this massive Catholic undertaking will be held in Philadelphia in September 2015. The pope traditionally attends the event.

"We are planning as if the pope will be with us and have no indication that he will not attend," Gavin said.

Vento's sign lives on

Former Gov. Ed Rendell, a well-known fan of the cheesesteak, should probably stay away from Geno's Steaks in South Philly for a while after what he had to say yesterday at a Bipartisan Policy Center panel event on immigration at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Rick Bloomingdale, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, told the audience that it was a "pet peeve" to him that some guy in South Philly has a sign telling people to "speak English."

Bloomingdale didn't mention Joey Vento, who died in 2011. He didn't really need to.

Vento famously hung the sign in the window of Geno's, telling customers to order in English.

Rendell, who as co-chair of the center's Immigration Task Force moderated the panel, said this:

"If it's any solace, the man who put up that sign is dead now."

- Staff writer Julie Shaw

contributed to this report.

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On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

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