I-Team: Abuse Of Authority?
by Ben Simmoneau
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Is the logo of the Philadelphia Parking Authority a pass to park anywhere? Over just a few days, the CBS 3 I-Team found Philadelphia Parking Authority employees, driving authority vehicles, parking illegally all over the city.
And online there’s much more evidence that some PPA employees break the city’s parking rules when they feel like it. So the I-Team set out to ask them why they think they’re above the law.
“How is it legal for them and not for us?” asked one contractor when he saw the I-Team staking out an illegally parked PPA vehicle in Center City.
The short answer is it’s not legal for PPA workers. The authority says most of its workers are expected to park legally.
“Who’s going to ticket these guys? They’re not going to ticket themselves,” said one Philadelphia resident who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. He’s so fed up, he started a Twitter account – @PPAWatch – to shame those who think they’re above the law.
“The hypocrisy of writing someone a ticket for illegal parking while you yourself are parked illegally, I think it just breeds contempt for the PPA organization,” he said.
The I-Team found one PPA car parked in Center City in a zone reserved for package delivery trucks. Two parking enforcement officers showed up as our camera rolled, but only after a call to a supervisor did they issue a $51 ticket.
“Every time you get PPA parking in a loading zone, we get tickets because we can’t park there,” said one food delivery man, who was stunned that parking officers issued the car a ticket. “I think that’s the first time I’ve seen a ticket on one of those cars. Probably because you guys are here.”
The PPA says whoever was driving that car will have to pay the ticket.
Dunkin’ Donuts bag and coffee in hand that person eventually showed up. He didn’t offer any explanation when pressed why he was illegally parked. In fact, he didn’t get in the car and move it until one of the parking enforcement officers talked to him.
The next day the I-Team found another parking authority car in a similar package delivery loading zone. An agent was writing a ticket as we arrived, but we waited for the driver. When she showed up, dressed in plain clothes, she wouldn’t tell us what she did for the Parking Authority.
“I’m not quite sure,” she said.
“You’re not quite sure what your position is?” I-Team reporter Ben Simmoneau asked.
“Yep,” she responded.
In University City, a PPA employee told us she can park her PPA car in a “No Parking Anytime” zone for up to 20 minutes.
“So you’re telling me, if I parked here you wouldn’t give me a ticket?” Simmoneau asked her.
“I would time you for 25 minutes,” she responded.
Well, that’s confusing. And there seemed to be confusion in a van of PPA trainees we found as well. Their PPA vehicle was parked in a Taxi Stand.
“No we’re not,” said one of the trainees even though the signs clearly indicated it was a Taxi Stand.
“I don’t know, you got to talk to a supervisor about that,” she said when pressed further.
Only taxis are supposed to park in taxi stands. But, as for “No Parking Anytime” zones, even though there is nothing in city code, the Parking Authority says it does give everybody a 20-minute grace period.
Overall, only PPA workers who are collecting money from meters or booting vehicles can park illegally.
The PPA would not talk to us on camera about this topic, but they thanked us for bringing it to their attention.