Nowhere else in America can the top executive of a public agency sexually harass a subordinate for two years, fund his own internal investigation, admit to the misconduct, and then get to keep his $223,000-a-year job — with the added bonus of less work.
Unless, of course, you run the Philadelphia Parking Authority and your name is Vincent J. Fenerty Jr.
The standard rules of operation have never applied at the Parking Authority, which for years has specialized in hiring cronies and doling out contracts to the politically connected.
But it was assumed that even Parking Authority employees would not have to tolerate a sexual harasser for a boss. Sadly, that is not the case — at least as it applies to Fenerty, the authority's executive director and a Republican ward leader.
As Inquirer columnist Mike Newall detailed this week, a female senior director at the Parking Authority filed a sexual harassment complaint with the agency's human resources department. She did not sue or seek financial compensation. She just wanted Fenerty, 60, to keep his creepy hands to himself.
The Parking Authority contracted with an outside law firm to investigate the complaint. But Fenerty paid the $30,000 bill for the investigation, which raises questions about the completeness of an inquiry funded by the person under scrutiny. Even so, the investigation determined that Fenerty admitted to the untoward conduct and had "abused his power."
At most public agencies, that would be grounds for dismissal. But the Parking Authority board instead cut Fenerty's power and limited his contact with employees. Essentially he got to keep his job but doesn't have to do it.
The bar has long been low at the Parking Authority. It is the one piece of the government pie in Philadelphia controlled by Republicans. Staffing and patronage contracts have ballooned since former House Speaker and convicted felon John Perzel engineered a state takeover of the Parking Authority in 2001. But that doesn't excuse turning the Parking Authority into a haven for sexual predators.
Republican City Councilman Al Taubenberger, who is on the Parking Authority board, downplayed Fenerty's sexual harassment as "high-school puppy love." If readers would like to help enlighten Taubenberger, they should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The same goes for the rest of the Parking Authority board: Chairman Joseph T. Ashdale, City Commissioner Al Schmidt, attorney Andrew K. Stutzman, accountant Russell Wagner and optometrist Karen W. Wrigley. They can all be reached through the Parking Authority's contact page at www.philapark.org/contact/.
Better yet, show up at the board's next scheduled meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, 701 Market Street.