Stu's Parking Authority primer: a trip to the sausage factory

Brian-Yan-parking-authority-600
Brian Yan strikes a Rocky pose outside the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication after beating a bad ticket.

WHEN TOM WOLF becomes governor next month, guess what changes will take place at the Philadelphia Parking Authority?

None. Sorry, that's tough to take on a Monday.

To supplement the bad news, let me offer a PPA primer for past, present and future victims. Think of this as a visit to the sausage factory.

The reason there will be no changes: Although the governor appoints all six members of the PPA board, they get 10-year terms and none is up in the first four years of the Wolf administration (or regime, as Rush Limbaugh likes to say).

The members who constitute PPA's governing body are: Chairman Joe Ashdale, Vice-Chairman/Secretary Al Taubenberger, Treasurer Russ Wagner, lawyer Andrew Stutzman, Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt and Dr. Karen Wrigley.

Six Republicans and zero Democrats.

Although the governor appoints all six, there's free choice on only two. They can be friends, associates, relatives, Chia Pets - it's his unencumbered choice. (Or hers, when we elect a female governor, ETA 2054.)

The governor also chooses two from a list submitted by the president pro tempore of the Senate and the final two from a list from the speaker of the House of Representatives. Both posts currently are in Republican hands.

Chairman Ashdale receives $75,000 a year for his services; the directors get $200 for each meeting they attend. There is generally one meeting a month, more when urgent issues arise. Schmidt declines the stipend.

OK, even board members who accept the money aren't getting rich off this.

Nor does the city, not really. By state law, net proceeds of up to $35 million go to the city's general fund, the rest earmarked for the school district.

For the fiscal year ended March 31, $37.2 million went to the general fund and $9.7 million to the schools.

 

In recent columns, I detailed the plight of Brian Yan, ticketed even before he could get out of his car to ask Parking Enforcement Officer Alfred Toto why he was being ticketed. Toto said he couldn't rescind the ticket after he'd finished writing it. PPA told me that once a ticket is finished, it can't be rescinded. That is not totally correct.

Yan complained to PPA, which told him he would have to appeal to the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication. It furnished him with an email saying that Toto made a mistake. Yan thought he would breeze through the appeal.

That's not what happened. First, BAA hearing examiner Raymonte Gay couldn't believe that Yan was ticketed so fast.

Gay wondered why "PPA didn't resolve this, rather than send it to us." In the case "of a blatant error by PPA, they can rescind."

PPA does have that authority in limited circumstances, said PPA spokesman Marty O'Rourke.

PPA "may cancel tickets when there is independent documentation of the situation as described by the person to whom the ticket was issued." For instance, PPA can cancel a ticket written at 8 p.m. when the parking sign says the regulation ends at 7 p.m.

In Yan's case, the fact that the ticket writer acknowledged he made a mistake was not considered adequate independent documentation.

That's just nuts, but that's why there is an appeal process.

In fiscal year 2013, PPA issued almost 1.5 million tickets, of which 166,494 were appealed, or 11.1 percent.

Of that number, 21,040 were dismissed, or 12.6 percent.

That's a tiny percentage, and may explain why more who feel wronged don't bother to appeal.

If you feel wronged, the PPA customer-service number is 215-683-9611.

 


Email: stubyko@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5977

On Twitter: @StuBykofsky

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