In this time of bewildering change, it's good to know some things stay the same: You can still find a city official who'll fix a parking ticket for friends and family or for a little food.
Actually, I'm not sure how much food Clorise Wynn required to make about $50,000 worth of tickets go "poof."
The case has been referred to the D.A.'s Office, and city Inspector General Amy Kurland is saying only that the delivery fleet whose tickets magically disappeared belonged to "a local restaurant chain."
I wish she'd be more specific. What does it take to make a ticket go away? A hoagie? A tray of cheesesteaks? Kobe beef?
Wynn left her $101,000-a-year position as director of the city Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA) two weeks ago. She has told media outlets she did nothing wrong, but was tired of the unwelcome attention.
She used to head a 20-person arm of the city Finance Department. That's the office at Ninth and Filbert where you try to cut a deal on tickets issued by police or the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
Kurland concluded the integrity of Wynn's entire department was compromised.
"Wynn created a workplace where there was virtually no supervision," Kurland said.
No policy prohibited ticket fixing for insiders. And insiders had their tickets fixed. Wynn wiped out 35 of her own daughter's infractions.
Again, Kurland would not name the daughter, but she did share a printout of the younger Wynn's misadventures:
She got her first ticket in August 2001, the most recent in March 2010. She was cited most often for leaving her car somewhere parking was prohibited, all over the city. She parked too close to the corner, left it in a crosswalk or a loading zone, and stayed too long at the meter.
Clorise Wynn's sister is married to Philadelphia Sheriff John Green. Clearly, Wynn believes in following the rules. What else could you make of the interesting fact that she, herself, initiated Kurland's investigation?
"She brought a possible impropriety to our attention on the part of one of her employees," Kurland said to me yesterday. "Isn't that amazing?"
Yes, it is.
The investigation accused Wynn and three members of her staff of fixing tickets: Joanna Schofield, a supervisor, and hearing officers Ivette Garcia and Denean Hardy.
Kurland said that her jurisdiction ends with city employees, but Vince Fenerty, executive director of the Parking Authority, asked her to look into his staff as well.
That resulted in the firing of two of his people: Robin Bass, a clerk assigned to the BAA, and her son, Reginald Bass-Reid, who works as a meter man. Both are accused of tossing their own tickets.
It will be up to the district attorney to determine whether the company that fed Wynn on what Kurland called "several" occasions got its tickets dismissed quid pro quo. The amount of food involved was "not substantial," Kurland said, but she wouldn't elaborate. (So the Kobe beef's probably out.)
That company participates in a program that discounts parking fines for those whose fleets must make timely deliveries, such as FedEx or UPS.
Kurland said her office didn't look into how many tickets the food chain received, so she cannot say what percentage that $50,000 represents of its total tickets.
She did say, however, that all of the other delivery companies' tickets are handled by another member of the BAA office. Wynn handled the food chain's tickets personally.
If any of this sounds familiar, it might be because Wynn's predecessor had similar trouble. In 2003, the FBI caught Joseph F. Hoffman Jr. on tape as he took cash from a taxi company looking for discounts. He'd tossed 126,000 tickets over six years and got a two-year sentence. Kurland prosecuted that case for the U.S. government.
At least in this case, we're only talking about 1,000 or so tickets. That's relatively small potatoes.