Parking Authority scandal prompts calls for review

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Councilman David Oh called for a audit of the PPA

Councilman David Oh called for a audit of the PPA

As the Philadelphia Parking Authority named two interim executive directors following the resignation of Vince Fenerty over sexual harassment, many are debating the state agency’s future and demanding answers.

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym said Thursday she wants a top-to-bottom review of the authority that oversees on-street parking enforcement, taxis and towing after the sexual harassment scandal forced Fenerty out.

The authority board, which confirmed Fenerty harassed one woman, initially kept him on, saying it was an isolated incident.  That troubled Gym because the Philadelphia Inquirer had reported another woman had accused Fenerty of harassment in 2006.

“Some of the past practices that were allowed to happen, we want to know if they continue to happen.  So if the board offered a settlement to a victim to keep quiet about sexual harassment almost a decade ago,” she said, “I don’t think that does clearly come through in the current financial publications that the authority self-reports out.”

A spokesman for the authority declined comment on who specifically knew of the 2006 allegations before this week.  But the Inquirer has reported that the woman accusing Fenerty was offered a legal settlement.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Fenerty will collect about $155,000 a year in pension payments.

With Fenerty gone, the board appointed deputy directors Corinne O’Connor and Rick Dixon to run it for now.   Dixon said he spoke to the staff in the wake of Fenerty’s departure, trying to reassure them.

“Everything we do and every decision I make will be guided by what we do to fulfill the mission of this agency, Our goal is to provide parking and transportation services in this city,” he said. “That’s my only focus moving forward.

“All of this other stuff will be handled by other people. Frankly, I don’t have time to do it … this is a full-time job to run the agency.”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Bruce Beemer did not return calls for comment on a possible investigation of the authority.

City Council rejected a resolution calling for an audit of the authority.

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