We’ve known forever the PPA is a bastion of political patronage and, since last year, a safe harbor for alleged sexual harasser and former chief Vincent Fenerty. It turns out we can now say the PPA, on top of all the other controversies, is also not very good at doing its job of collecting parking tickets.
As we shared yesterday, the office of Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a report condemning the agency, stating the “PPA board allowed (an) unchecked tyrant to sexually harass staff, control policies, procurement, personnel,” as well as and calling for a complete overhaul.
Among the most startling revelations was the PPA’s inability to collect fees and fines. According to the report, the agency has missed out on $580 million in fees and fines since 1990, and about $108 million just since 2012. Because of a 2004 law, the PPA’s net revenue, basically every dollar it collects minus salaries, goes to the school district and the city. DePasquale estimated the PPA’s failure cost the school about $78 million over the last five years.
“If that money was actually needed to pay the staff of the PPA,” DePasquale said at a press conference, “it would have been collected.”
Here are three other takeaways from the report and its aftermath:
Council wants PPA back under city control
After the report, City Council passed a resolution calling on Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly to transfer control of the PPA back to the city, similar to how the city regained control of the school district through last month’s School Reform Commission dissolution vote. The PPA might be a tougher get for Philadelphia, given the advantage Republicans have in Harrisburg. The PPA has long been a tentacle of the Republican party.
DePasquale also pitched the idea of moving PPA control to the city.
“The state of Pennsylvania has clearly failed in its management of this,” he said. “The authority needs a complete overhaul.”
Possibility of criminal charges
DePasquale said he refer the report to the Attorney General’s Office (and to the IRS and State Ethics Commission). He declined to discuss his thoughts on whether charges could actually happen, but spoke out strongly against the PPA board’s lack of oversight concerning Fenerty. Fenerty was accused twice of sexual harassment, first in June 2015, an accusation brought to the board. The board decided to let Fenerty keep his job as long as he agreed to 13 conditions. He was accused again of sexual harassment the next year, from a 2006 incident, and still wasn’t fired. Fenerty resigned and received a $400,000 golden parachute, a payout DePasquale determined should’ve been cut to $225,000.
Three other sexual harrassments were filed against PPA employees other than Fenerty between 2014 and 2016.
How the patronage mill hummed
The PPA is synonymous with patronage for a reason: It works hard to maintain closed hiring practices. DePasquale’s office found Fenerty “totally controlled” who was interviewed and hired.
On top of that, DePasquale noted Fenerty allowed his “highly-compensated” direct reports to regularly earn excessive vacation time and comp time. Per policy, those employees should have only earned that time for “extraordinary circumstances.”
Interim Executive Director has made some reforms at the PPA since she took over last October, resulting in more revenue and a crackdown on lax policies — all unpopular changes for reasons cited in DePasqule’s report and this article published last month by PlanPhilly.
Parking news of the week
Man in stolen PPA uniform steals…strange things
Three weeks ago, a PPA uniform was stolen out of a vehicle in Bridesburg. This week a man in a PPA uniform was caught on tape outside the Fastway LLC on Thompson Street filling his truck with someone else’s stuff.
The theft of the business items happened Sunday at the Fastway LLC on 4204 Thompson St., where the reported PPA impostor allegedly stole a toolbox, lawnmower, barbecue grill, hand truck and sump pump.
The question is: Did the guy need the uniform to steal the stuff he took or was it just a coincidence? Does wearing a PPA uniform authorize someone to take random sump pumps and lawnmowers. Those were some strange things he stole.
The best of Savesies Things
Speaking of strange things, the Philadelphia Police Twitter account won the internet this week with their play on the Netflix show Stranger Things called “Savesie Things.” If you missed it because you were too busy binging shows on Netflix, here’s the tweet:
As of Thursday night the snow forecast looked more like rain, but early weather on Friday has Philly maybe getting 1-3 inches. As we get into the snowy season, the Philly Police want to remind all of us not to save spots. So as we’re over here imagining Kimmy Schmidt and The Punisher fighting over a South Philly parking spot in the snow, here are some of the best reactions to the PPD’s Netflix spoof.