Saturday, September 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

News alert! A happy PPA story!

But still: why can't the authority make it easier for us to find its ombudsman?

News alert! A happy PPA story!

Sometimes, here at the Daily News, once we've lobbed our stories into the ether and jumped onto the next deadline, we forget that the tales stay alive on the Internet, waiting to frustrate the next citizen fighting the stupidities of urban life.

Or to help them, as this reader shared in this recent e-mail to me about her experience with the Philadelphia Parking Authority:

"I got a parking ticket on the 1400 block of Susquehanna Ave. and was about to pay it via the PPA's website when I noticed that the plate number, model, and make were way off," writes reader Sydelle Zove. "Calling the [PPA's] toll-free number got me absolutely nowhere, fast. My fear was that the PPA officer somehow switched tickets between adjacent cars.

"I didn't want to pay the other guy's ticket, nor did I want my $26 violation to suddenly double because the payment deadline had passed. So I searched PPA's website for a phone number that would get me to a live person. No such luck- not a phone number anywhere unless you want to speak with the press contact or respond to an RFP for procurement of goods or services.

"Thanks to Google and your April story, I quickly found [PPA ombudsman] Frank DeAngelis' number. He was on vacation, but his voicemail greeting got me to Sue Cornell. She picked up her phone and in two minutes determined that, in fact, I did not get ticketed back on 8/21 in the 1400 block of Susquehanna.

"Most likely scenario is that some passerby plucked the ticket from the Gray Dodge and stuck it on my windshield. What fun! So I asked if there were some way that the Dodge owner could be given some slack for missing the payment deadline. Ms. Cornell added a note to the system that will eliminate the fine. The owner will get a notice that he failed to pay the violation, but he'll only have to deal with the $26 tab for the $.25 on-street parking space.

"And I'm in the clear - no tickets since 2008!

"Thanks for publishing DeAngelis's number. But why wouldn't the PPA want the public to have easy access to their own advocate, or the head of customer service? There's not even a general info number on that website. Only in Philadelphia, and only at the PPA."

Tell me about it.

Meantime, everyone, if you need to get to Frank DeAngelis, here again is his phone number at the PPA:  (215) 683-9614.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.


Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at polaner@phillynews.com.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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