The Philadelphia Parking Authority bid farewell Tuesday to Joe Ashdale, who had chaired the revenue-rich, patronage-laden agency since a 2001 Republican takeover.
Next on the agenda: electing Ashdale’s replacement. That didn’t go smoothly during Tuesday’s meeting.
The only board member who wants the post, former City Councilmember Al Taubenberger, couldn’t muster enough support to even hold a vote. The issue was punted to the PPA’s meeting next month.
Consider the conundrum for the six-member board. Clout hears the five others don’t want Taubenberger, now the vice chair, to take control. But none of the others want the job, the only board post with a salary — $75,000 per year.
We’re also told Taubenberger has been calling board members, seeking support. He didn’t want to talk to Clout about that. The other board members remained mum as well.
Clout sees two paths here: Taubenberger wears down the reluctant board members or someone else steps up. It’s a toss-up, with tenure as a factor.
Taubenberger, a Republican from Northeast Philly, is serving his third 10-year term, which expires in June 2030.
The terms for two other Republicans, hospital executive Russ Wagner and City Commissioner Al Schmidt, expire in 10 months. Neither is expected to seek another term.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, last month appointed to the board Republicans Beth Grossman, the 2017 GOP nominee for district attorney, and attorney Patricia Furlong. Their first meeting was Tuesday.
So two members are on their way out, two members just got there, and a third is the lone Democrat with nine years to go and a deep background in public agency governance.
And then there is Taubenberger, the 2007 GOP nominee for mayor who played that losing hand into a 2015 win for City Council. He made clear his interest in a new government job after losing his 2019 bid for a second Council term.
Taubenberger stumbled into PPA controversy in 2016, defending the agency’s handling of a sexual-harassment scandal that eventually ousted former executive director Vince Fenerty.
Billy Ciancaglini vs. COVID-19
Last we checked in on Billy Ciancaglini, the two-time Democratic candidate for judge turned 2019 Republican nominee for mayor had moved to Las Vegas for a promising career in appellate law that left plenty of time for Facebook trash-talk about pandemic mask mandates and lockdowns.
You know where this is going, right?
Ciancaglini this week posted on Facebook that he is just bouncing back after a “really, really bad” three-week bout of COVID-19 — high fever, exhaustion, lack of appetite, the works.
So has Ciancaglini shifted his position from vaccine skeptic? That would be No. He changed his Facebook profile picture — while still sick — to include a frame that said, “I decline the experimental jab.”
Ciancaglini told Clout he hasn’t been to a doctor in 25 years because he’s so healthy. He just doesn’t think he needs a vaccine.
“That’s not a political statement,” he said. “I just choose to roll with the punches.”
Ciancaglini had many Facebook well-wishers. We’re not surprised. He always had a way of drawing people on social media that didn’t translate to the ballot box. Mayor Jim Kenney won reelection in 2019 with more than 80% of the vote by treating Ciancaglini and the general election as if they didn’t exist.
Speaking of which, at least one of Ciancaglini’s Facebook friends insisted COVID doesn’t exist. Another chided him for posting photos about eating out while still feverish.
“You’re out infecting other people,” she wrote, urging him to order takeout.
“Screw other people. How do you think I got sick, osmosis?” responded Ciancaglini, who later told Clout he mostly quarantined and tried to stay away from people while eating out.
Quotable vs. Quotable
“At least we know where Sean Parnell thinks he stands in this race. As we’ve said for months, Jeff has the arrows in his back to prove that he is the front-runner in this race.”
— Conor McGuinness, spokesperson for Republican Jeff Bartos’ campaign for the U.S. Senate, responding to what he called “weak nonsense” from the campaign of Republican Sean Parnell, which noted that Bartos this month described himself in a newspaper profile as “a lifelong Republican.” Montgomery County voter records list Bartos as a Democrat from at least 1999 to 2003.
“Jeffrey can tell all the nice stories he wants. It doesn’t change the fact that he lied about being a lifelong Republican. But considering Jeffrey worked in the Clinton Administration, it’s easy to see why he’s so desperate to lie about that.”
— Ian Prior, Parnell campaign spokesperson. Bartos served as an intern to President Bill Clinton and said nice things about Hillary Clinton in a 2014 Inquirer story. Bartos and Parnell are vying for the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, a former Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton before defeating her in the 2016 election.
Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.