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Part 2: ‘The Land of Oz’

(A wall decoration at the headquarters of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.  Photo by Pat Loeb)

(A wall decoration at the headquarters of the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Photo by Pat Loeb)

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Regional Affairs Council - November 2011

KYW Regional Affairs Council

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“Harrisburg’s FAILING Grade in Philadelphia”

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Why would a state senator from Jefferson County, Pennsylvania care about parking spaces in Philadelphia?

He probably doesn’t, yet he has more say over who runs the Philadelphia Parking Authority than the mayor of Philadelphia does.  Parking is just one of several city functions that have ended up in state control.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority was created by City Council in 1950, but in 2001, then-speaker of the Pennsylvania House, Rep. John Perzel (R-Phila.), put it in state hands.

Former deputy mayor Phil Goldsmith recalls that Perzel was upfront about his motivation: patronage.

“He said to me, ‘I wanted to make sure I could get more workers at the polls on Election Day,’ ” Goldsmith tells KYW Newsradio.

perzel side romeo2 Part 2:  The Land of Oz

(Former Pa. House speaker John Perzel. File photo by Tony Romeo)

Perzel (right), who recently pleaded guilty to corruption charges (see related story), could not be reached for comment, but it’s true that a former GOP mayoral candidate is on the board of the PPA and executive director Vince Fenerty is a Republican ward leader.

But the real problem with the set-up, says Goldsmith, is this:

“If you don’t like the Parking Authority, there’s really no one you can complain to.
It’s a little like the Land of Oz.”

You remember from the movie, that “Nobody gets in to see the wizard!  Not nobody, not nohow!”  In fact, that quote is framed and hanging on the wall at Parking Authority headquarters in West Philadelphia (top photo).

When I asked Fenerty (below) if Philadelphians are well-served by this system, his staff interrupted to say he couldn’t answer that.

“He’s commenting on the board and he serves…” began media relations consultant Marty O’Rourke.

“…not even the board, the legislature — the folks in Harrisburg,” continued PPA spokesperson Linda Miller.

Story continues below photo…

fenerty vince in ofc dl loeb Part 2:  The Land of Oz

(Philadelphia Parking Authority executive director Vince Fenerty. Credit: Pat Loeb)

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Fenerty later released a statement defending the Parking Authority, particularly its contribution to the city budget.  And a few days later, he announced a new initiative to improve service (see related story).

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060

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