The Philadelphia Parking Authority is the perennial patronage den that we love to hate. But give them credit for being proactive here. Perhaps a bit too proactive.
Whitesides lost the ticket before paying the $26 and went on Twitter this week to ask what one does in such a situation.
That’s when the parking authority’s official Twitter account, @PhilaParking, offered to assist in tracking down the ticket info.
“I was impressed,” Whitesides said.
Then, the PPA sent her another direct message — a link to what appears to be some pretty graphic pornography with a preview photo featuring a couple of nice gentlemen enjoying themselves immensely, all under a three-word name or headline that didn’t make sense to us (but that editors say we still can’t publish here). We did not click on the link for fear of setting off alarms in our IT department.
Two minutes after sending Whitesides the porn — two very stressful, expletive-laden minutes, we’d imagine — the PPA followed up by sending the requested information about the ticket.
“Thank you but I will not be clicking on that Pornhub link,” she messaged back. “Hope that’s OK.”
The PPA’s response: “We apologize for the error. Please reach out anytime.” (Twitter of course had a field day with that line after the exchange went viral.)
Now, back to the matter at hand. How did this happen?
PPA management says its Twitter account is handled by a contracted vendor who apparently sent the porn accidentally while working from home. Ah, the joys of telecommuting!
“My theory,” Whitesides said in an interview Thursday, “was this person was at home, kind of working a little bit and having some fun at the same time."
Just a theory. But seems plausible. Still, we have so many questions. Who is the vendor? How much are they paid? Who is [that name editors won’t let us print]?
PPA spokesperson Marty O’Rourke said Thursday that the agency’s Twitter account is handled by ChatterBlast Media, which is paid $9,875 a month and won the five-year contract in 2015 through a public request-for-proposal process. After this incident, the PPA has instructed ChatterBlast not to conduct any PPA business outside of the company’s offices, O’Rourke said.
Interestingly, ChatterBlast does work for Mayor Jim Kenney and had managed his Twitter account when he was a councilman. That was until Kenney realized how fun it was to do it himself. Anyone remember Kenney’s classic 2012 Twitter exchange with the city employee known as “The Moleman”?
Whitesides said she wasn’t offended by the PPA mishap. She found it funny, actually, and she doesn’t want anybody to be fired.
“I was talking to my partner about this and, honestly, they probably lucked out that they did this to me. I could totally see this being sent to a different person who would get really upset and flip out,” Whitesides said. “I was like, ‘Whoa, OK, I was not asking for this, but whatever.’ Work is hard. Whatever gets you through the day. I’m not going to judge.”
She still owes $26 for that parking ticket, though.
Clout would urge PPA executive director Scott Petri to step in and give Whitesides a pass on this one. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, we have a message for the director:
Mr. Petri, tear up this ticket!
Sherrie Cohen’s back … again
Call it the Cohen precedent.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday ruled on an obscure bit of election law. And, in the process, it returned Democrat-turned-independent Sherrie Cohen to the Nov. 5 general election ballot for City Council at-large.
Cohen’s trip has been circuitous and controversial. She started her third bid for Council as a Democrat but dropped out of the primary election after her campaign manager infuriated LGBTQ allies by heckling the city’s first trans woman candidate for Council … at a trans-pride flag-raising event at City Hall.
Cohen said at the time she left the race to heal that rift. But she switched her voter registration to independent at the same time and swiftly pivoted to the general election.
She faced two legal challenges — a Court of Common Pleas judge ruled that the state’s Election Code prohibited a candidate who qualified as a member of a party for the primary election to run as an independent in the general, under the so-called sore loser law. Commonwealth Court upheld that.
But the Supremes, in a 5-2 ruling, sided with Cohen’s argument that her voluntary withdrawal from the primary, even though it came after the deadline to drop out, nullified that candidacy. Justices Kevin Dougherty and David Wecht dissented.
This had been an unsettled question in legal circles. But now Cohen’s name is tied to the precedent that will settle the matter.
“I think Canadians are a little bit different people. They’re more ‘This is the problem. We’ve got to fix it. Let’s just do it,' as opposed to Americans, who seem to tend to complain about things more." — Mayor Kenney, discussing his recent trip to Canada to visit supervised injection sites in Vancouver and Toronto. A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that a Philly nonprofit’s plan to open a similar site would not violate U.S. law.
Staff writer Sean Collins Walsh contributed to this column.