Update 8:06 p.m.: The state House passed this bill this evening, 127-68.
A new bill in Harrisburg would change the residency requirements of the Philadelphia Parking Authority board, and a source tells Billy Penn it’s because one board member wants to move.
The measure, which comes up for a vote in the state House of Representatives in the coming days, changes the PPA’s current rules. Right now, everyone on the board must live in the city. But the bill stipulates that only a majority must reside in city limits; some members can reside outside.
Current residency rules work like this: All city electeds are required to live within Philadelphia. Every member of the PPA board must, too. Not all teachers, cops and firefighters are required to be here. Appointed city employees have to live here, unless they have a residence waiver, which is normally given for a set time span, according to the city’s Office of Human Resources.
It’s mandated for the PPA board to have six seats, so the language in the new bill would allow for two members to commute from wherever they please.
Why should this exception be law? We asked Rep. Scott Petri; the New Hope-based Republican who’s sponsoring the bill.
“The parking authority regulates those that live, work and reside in Philadelphia, but also those that enter into Philadelphia, including going to the airport,” says Petri.
Petri noted that his Bucks County constituents often use the Philadelphia International Airport, which is under the PPA’s jurisdiction but outside city limits. So it’s only fair that someone on the PPA board could come from outside the city, too.
So who could move? Multiple members of the current board would be eligible to bounce and pick an exurb to make their own. The current board is chaired by painters’ union (District Council 21) head Joseph Ashdale. And interestingly, DC 21 has donated to Petri’s campaign. Joining Ashdale on the PPA’s board are trial lawyer Andrew Stutzman, Holy Redeemer Health System Senior Vice Prez Russell Wagner, and optometrist Karen Wrigley. Rounding out the board are two people hold public office in Philly: City Commissioner Al Schmidt, City Councilman Al Taubenberger (which means they’re not moving). They are all Republicans— members are governor-appointed and serve 10-year terms, and Gov. Tom Wolf won’t get to make a pick this term.
When asked why the bill’s language doesn’t stipulate county representation or residence in the Delaware Valley, Petri told us the pending bill, “matches every other parking authority… What we tried to do was make everybody across the state similar.”
The bill doesn’t actually match statutes that apply elsewhere. In Pittsburgh, for instance, Mayor Bill Peduto can appoint that city’s board for a term that doesn’t surpass five years. Other authorities’ rules more closely reflect the metropolitan composition that Petri describes as ideal, as they allow officials like township commissioners to have a say in the board’s makeup.