City Council voted against a resolution that would have asked the city controller to conduct an audit of the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s policies and its administrative procedures.
The bill was introduced by Council members David Oh and Helen Gym, both of whom urged their colleagues to support the measure or work together to find an alternative way to hold PPA accountable to transparency. Earlier this year, Gym pushed for an audit of the agency, among other things.
“I think in light of what’s revealed and what is going to be revealed about the parking authority is that ‘the train has left the station,’ “ Oh said during City Council meeting on Thursday. “The issue is whether or not — right now — the public believes that the City Council is not a party to what has been going on at the parking authority, public perception wise.”
Earlier Thursday, the PPA board held its monthly meeting where chairman Joseph Ashdale noted the resignation of executive director Vincent J. Fenerty Jr., who quit Wednesday amid accusations of sexual harassment.
Ashdale said if Fenerty had not stepped down, the board would have terminated him after a second allegation of sexual harassment surfaced.
News outlets reported the incident occurred earlier in Fenerty’s tenure, but the information failed to make its way into his human resource file.
“The inexcusable conduct of former executive director Vince Fenerty has forced this board and the entire PPA to confront the issue of sexual harassment in a more public way,” Ashdale said during the meeting. “The conduct uncovered is unacceptable in any workplace. No employee should be subject to harassment sexual or otherwise.
“I want to add, particularly to our female employees, that we will not forget what happened to these employees,” he said. “This experience highlighted that we need to be more vigilant in providing oversight and in ensuring policies are clearly articulated, violations reported and punishment consistently applied.”
PPA spokesman Marty O’Rourke wasn’t clear if Fenerty, a PPA employee for 32 years, would still receive his six-figure pension.
“That his between him and the pension board,” O’Rourke told reporters after the meeting. “This situation is very egregious. The behavior by Mr. Fenerty was repugnant, reprehensible. Because this is a personal matter and because of confidentiality rules, I am prohibited from speaking about the details.”
O’Rourke said the board was looking into making sure that all complaints made against an employee were place in the person’s human resource file.
He also noted plan to revamp the agency’s sexual harassment policy and said the PPA would be open to an audit.
In the meantime, Corrine O’Connor and Rick Dickson, both deputy executive directors with PPA, will serve as interim co-directors.
At Council meeting, Oh said hearings were held featuring PPA officials and “the various things that were told to us were not true.” She added the accounting information that the Council was presented with was “very general.”
“Unless we have legislation and unless we dig deep ... because the issue of a performance audit will only lead to how we negotiate, if we negotiate, with the state about how the parking authority is run and operated,” Oh said.
Councilman William Greenlee, who was among the dissenters, cited the council’s receipt of a state-mandated, independent audit of the PPA within the last two weeks as his reason for voting against the resolution.
“My opinion is that we at least need to consider that audit, that document before we start asking for another audit,” he said of the 50-page review. “At this point this resolution should be rejected.”
Gym said the recent state evaluation was not much different from previous financial audits, emphasizing the proposed resolution would be a performance and management review.
She also noted concerns regarding the agency potentially using taxpayer’s money for settlement payments to victims.
“Vince Fenerty did not act alone,” Oh said. “He was in a cohort. It was an environment that encouraged him and supported him and covered him. The public wants to see that this is looked into.”