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Search begins for new Parking Authority director

The search is underway to find a new executive director for the embattled Philadelphia Parking Authority. The agency posted a job notice on its site Wednesday seeking a manager to oversee a $250 million budget and 1,100 employees.

Clarena Tolson, a former deputy manager for infrastructure and transportation for the city, was appointed to an interim one-year term to head the authority in October. Tolson, a Democrat, filled the vacancy left by longtime director Vincent J. Fenerty Jr., who resigned following two sexual harassment scandals. Fenerty, a Republican ward leader, had been at the helm for 11 years.

Tolson did not respond to requests for comment Thursday on whether she would seek to remain in the post permanently.

Six months into the job, she received criticism from one of the authority's main unions, AFSCME Local 1637, after hiring her daughter's 22-year-old roommate to a $48,000-a-year position that did not previously exist.

Several sources within the authority said the incident miffed at least two members of the board, which met in executive session without Tolson at the authority's last meeting March 31.

PPA spokesman Martin O'Rourke declined to comment on personnel issues, but said it would not be unusual for the board to meet without Tolson if it was discussing the executive director position.

Board member and City Councilman Al Taubenberger said the board would consider all applicants.

"Clarena is a talented lady with much experience in Philadelphia, and that's a good thing, but I think we are going to stay with the search firm's idea of doing a very, very broad, certainly national, maybe even international, Canada or elsewhere, search," he said. "We're sticking to that and Clarena knew that as well.... I think she can grow into the position and she certainly can apply, and I would urge her to apply."

The PPA is working with CCI Consulting, a Blue Bell-based talent search firm, to fill the position. The posting says of the opportunity: "It's a dynamic and changing time for PPA as they seek a proven leader who is both strategic and pragmatic."

Preferred candidates for the $233,677-a-year post will have a bachelor's degree in public policy and administration, economics, or related business discipline and a master's degree in business administration or public policy.

Qualifications also include 15 or more years with a transportation or parking authority, labor relations experience, business acumen, and the "highest degree of ethics."