Tuesday, December 1, 2015

PICA paralyzed by board vacancies

The state agency empowered to oversee Philadelphia's budget can't even pass its own.

PICA paralyzed by board vacancies


The state agency empowered to oversee Philadelphia's budget can't even pass its own.

Named the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, the agency is supposed to function as a watchdog to keep the city from inching toward bankruptcy, principally by reviewing and approving Philadelphia's annual budget and five-year spending plan.

But at the moment, it is paralyzed from doing anything - including acting on PICA's own budget, which must be passed by March 1.

The reason? To take any official action, the five-member board needs four voting members. Right now, though, it has just three.

All five appointments actually expired at the end of January, but to date just three of the appointees have been renamed to the board. They are James Eisenhower, PICA's chairman and an appointee of Gov. Rendell; Michael Karp, an appointee of House Republican Leader Sam Smith; and Bill Leonard, named to the board by House Speaker Keith McCall.

Two other former PICA board members - Varsovia Fernandez and Robert Archie - have not been reappointed, nor has anyone been named in their place. Varsovia's appointing authority is Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati; Archie's is Senate Democratic Leader Bob Mellow.

"We don't know what's going on," said Eisenhower, who earlier this week presided over an official PICA meeting in which no official action could occur.

"We have draft reports we want to issue. We have hiring decisions we want to make," he said.

He also expressed a certain degree of exasperation about the situation given the city's precarious financial state. "We've had this before where we've had delays in appointments, but not this long," Eisenhower said. "Of all years... Of all years."

Click here for Philly.com's politics page.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Hepp, Tricia Nadolny, Julia Terruso, and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

Also on Philly.com
letter icon Newsletter