Stu Bykofsky: It's the Philadelphia Patronage Authority

THE Philadelphia Parking Authority is the most efficient bureaucracy on earth - when it comes to nailing overtime-parkers, illegal parkers and (according to local legend) even proper parkers.

Much less keen when it comes to mucking out its own barn.

PPA parking-enforcement officers have been known to bend the time-space continuum by writing tickets for expired meters before the red flag goes up, and for citing taxis for infractions at one location when GPS places them elsewhere. But PPA is not ruthless with some of its own, according to a draft audit from the City Controller's Office.

Gov. Rendell requested the audit in fall 2007, after the Daily News revealed PPA's payroll doubled after a state takeover. Until 2001, PPA had been a bloated Democratic patronage pigeon coop. Then it was the Republicans' turn, and they were cordial. Instead of replacing Democratic drones with their own, the GOP just added its own zombies.

Controller Alan Butkovitz will have the finished audit soon, just ahead of the November election, which must be coincidental.

Fairness first. The majority of parking tickets I, personally, got were legit. I gambled, I lost. The same is true for my friends, including one legendary scofflaw who just ponied up almost 4 grand to clear past tickets he had "forgotten" to pay.

After his car got booted, he showed up to pay and marveled (not quite admiringly) that PPA tracked him back through the years, and three previous cars, all with outstanding tickets. PPA could teach Indiana Jones tricks about tracking down antiquities.


 

With fairness out of the way,

the PPA payroll doubled?

I look around the local landscape, starting where I work, and see rows of empty desks, standing like tombstones marking former colleagues. The controller's audit covered 2006-2008, a period in which many employers - including governments - were shedding workers.

That's why some call it the Philadelphia Patronage Authority. Like the Roach Motel, once you get in, you never get out.

One bright note for PPA was the controller's finding that the salaries of its top staffers are not exorbitant.

They are in a "competitive range," said PPA spokeswoman Linda Miller, "given the magnitude of responsibility of PPA's executives."

So PPA Executive Director Vince Fenerty makes $183,140.

(Mayor Nutter gets $167,440.)

The audit revealed 20 PPA managers grabbing more than 100K, up from two who were getting six figures before the GOP takeover.

From two to 20 is a 1,000 percent increase.

More math fun: When the GOP took over PPA in 2001, it was agreed that Philly schools would get $45 million. As of last year, the school district had gotten $4 million.

That's 9 percent of what was promised.

Got that? 1,000 percent for them, 9 percent for us.

Butkovitz was frustrated about not getting details from PPA about who gets 82 free passes for parking at the airport, but I'm more concerned that four of 30 contracts worth more than $25,000 selected at random couldn't be located. More than 13 percent vanished? Stuff like that can make a fella suspicious.

Most interesting to me is the number of supervisors - one manager for every six employees, except in departments for administration and strategic planning (aka, indoor work) where it's one supervisor for every two to three employees. That's not supervision. That's babysitting.

E-mail stubyko@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5977. For recent columns:

http://go.philly.com/byko.