By Tony Romeo and Joe Holden
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, Pennsylvania’s Auditor General says he will immediately begin a limited audit of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says the “limited performance audit” of the Philadelphia Parking Authority will focus on its rules and procedures on sexual harassment and employment.
“Now there’s been serious allegations relating to sexual harassment that was, if nothing else, not taken seriously by the authority over many years. And we’re going to find out exactly what the full extent of that is, and what can be done to fix it.”
DePasquale says he is prepared to dig deeper in reviewing the Parking Authority’s operations, if the agency’s officials were sincere when they said they welcome an outside audit. “The allegation of sexual harassment being swept under the table is completely outrageous,” DePasquale said.
Otherwise, to do a more extensive audit, DePasquale says under current state law, his office will either need to be given authority by or deputized by the Attorney General’s office. He believes that law needs to be changed to allow for audits of all municipal authorities in Pennsylvania.
Last week – Vince Fenerty, the PPA’s executive director, resigned after internal investigations and the board revealed he sexually harassed at least two female employees. The board was hours away from firing him when he submitted a letter of resignation.
It was the answer to a question by CBS 3 that signaled the parking authority was open to a review by the state’s financial watchdog. “If they want to look at the books, they can,” said Martin O’Rourke, spokesman for the PPA, said.
O’Rourke also confirmed to CBS 3 that an attorney for the authority in 2006 did tell the board about a sexual harassment complaint made against Fenerty. The authority was preparing to offer the victim a $150,000 settlement, but she declined it. It’s unclear why the authority allowed Fenerty to remain in the job.
Last year, Fenerty was again accused of sexually harassing an employee. Both incidents and how they were handled have drawn outrage from leaders of both political parties and city council members.
Fenerty stands to collect a handsome, $150,000 annual pension payout. He has not responded to messages for comment.