The city's chief integrity officer is, CP just learned, investigating a weekend incident in which the Streets department issued, and the Philadelphia Police enforced, a temporary parking order on a Fairmount block which, according to the observations of one resident, appeared aimed at providing parking for a private party.
This weekend, City Paper caught wind of an interesting incident that occurred on Friday, in which an entire block in Fairmount was suddenly â and for reasons unclear â subjected to a temporary no-parking order.
The details came courtesy of Chris LaPierre, a resident of the 800 block of N 26th St, who told CP today the following story (the incident was mentioned today on Philebrity):
On Friday, LaPierre was having dinner when a Philadelphia police officer knocked on his door and told him (apologetically, he says) that he'd have to move his car, due to a temporary no-parking ordinance affecting both sides of the entire block. LaPierre moved his car (no small feat in Fairmount), and, upon returning, noticed someone else parking on the block. He warned them about the situation, but the driver seemed unconcerned: "The guy said, 'We're fine, don't worry about it,'" he reports.
As the block filled up with cars, LaPierre inspected and found many to have, posted inside their dashboards, written notes on City of Philadelphia letterhead.
He then watched as the newly-parked cars' owners proceeded to a party at the house across the street, a property belonging to attorney Worrell Nero.
A call to Nero's office today was un-returned. CP made slightly more headway with the Mayor's Press Office.
At 6:15 p.m., spokesperson Katherine Martin told CP that the city's Chief Integrity Officer, Joan L. Markman, is looking into the incident and the process by which the temporary parking order was issued.
Ms. Martin declined to elaborate.
Parkinggate? Just had to coin it first. Plus, the double-g is cool.
Also: Vote Drew Lazor! He deserves it, and yes: you can vote every day. Cupcakes, indeed.
|Credit: Media Mobilizing Project|
|After two years of facing charges, Blount's name is cleared.|
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
How many seas must a white dove sail?
How many times must the leader of Philadelphia's taxi drivers union clear himself of the same charges before the PPA will deign to even meet with him?
Who knows although you'd think we'd have an answer to the last question, after Taxi Workers Alliance president Ron Blount was acquitted in PPA court yesterday on two-year-old charges of assaulting a passenger.
In September, 2008, the newly elected Blount was hit with a felony charge - one that had been thrown out and then re-instated of allegedly attacking and choking passenger Megan Saunders after she tried to pay with a credit card.
Last October, after a year of facing that charge, Blount was acquitted by a jury in Common Pleas court.
At the time, the Phialdelphia Parking Authority, which oversees the taxi industry and which has had an acrimonious relationship with Blount from the time he was elected to lead the TWA didn't hesitate to use the charges as a talking point against him. As I reported in my profile of Blount and the TWA in September '08:
The morning after Blount was elected during the time when he faced only misdemeanor charges the Metro quoted PPA taxi division chief James Ney, saying he was "quite concerned with the president they've elected, who has outstanding charges against him ... We're wondering why the drivers would elect someone like that."
When Blount was fully acquitted by a Common Pleas court in October, the PPA pursued its own case against him in yes, it exists PPA's own administrative court, where PPA judges (whose salaries are paid by the PPA) have the power to impose fines, revoke cab licenses, etc.
In the two years since his original criminal charges, the PPA has declined to meet with Blount citing, since last October, the administrative case against him.
Yesterday, Blount appeared before a PPA judge to defend himself, again, against charges filed by Saunders who, she revealed on the stand, had been driven to court yetserday by the PPA.
The judge found Blount innocent of everything except failing to take a credit card a violation for which he may have to pay a $250 fine.
So: is the PPA, after Blount's two acquittals, ready at last to meet with him?
Absolutely kind of. The PPA will meet with him, Jim Ney, director of the taxi and limo divsion of the PPA, told the Metro today . . . "but thats not going to happen until we see the actual opinion."
You'd think they'd learn. Back in 2005, as reported by City Paper's Nicole Sarrubbo, the developers behind ye Old City Parkominium, in an attempt to drum up interest in their condo-style parking garage, put fliers designed to look like parking violations on the windshields of cars parked in Old City. As you can imagine, people were pissed.
When Ryan Wexelblatt walked out to his car two Thursday mornings ago, he could not believe what he saw: Every single car on Wood Street had a Philadelphia Parking Authority ticket on its windshield. Confused, he picked the "ticket" off his windshield and opened it. Lo and behold, the "ticket" was really a flier for the Old City "Parkominium," encouraging residents to purchase a space and not let "another ticket ruin your day." Wexelblatt was outraged: "It literally was the most obnoxious thing I had ever seen."
This morning, mild-mannered CP production director Michael Polimeno walked in, as incensed as a mild-mannered production director gets, having found this flier on his window this morning:
Before he realized it was, in fact, not a parking violation but a PRETZEL Violation, Michael said he experienced several stages of disbelief rage, deep embarrassment, shame before he realized he'd been the victim of a dubious bait and switch on the part of Philly Pretzel Factory, whose deals were listed on the back of the flier.
"Will I ever forget the name Philly Pretzel Factory?" asked Michael. "No."
He suggested, however, that his lasting memories may not exactly be fond ones.
Well, this pic isn't nearly the catch made by MealTicket editor Drew Lazor when he caught a PPA truck parked next to a fire hydrant â during a fire alarm â but it's not bad.
Last night, local man Frank Iacovino pulled me from my Lord Chesterfield at the Khyber to point out the following (we apologize for the lousy picture: you call that a phone camera, Frank?): a PPA car, parked in a no-parking zone, idling, its driver inside.
Ah, you say â but was she writing a ticket? Checking a license plate? Just doing her job?
Ladies and gentlemen: she was eating a slice of pizza.
|The PPA: parked (illegally) in front of the Khyber, idling, eatin' a slice.
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
... remind them about this morning in Old City, when I watched a Philadelphia Fire Department engine scream down Chestnut Street in response to a call, only to find a PHILADELPHIA PARKING AUTHORITY VAN blocking the hydrant just before the intersection of Second Street. (Thankfully, the call appeared to be a false alarm.)
The visibly perturbed firefighters politely asked the PPA agent who sprinted back to her vehicle with the quickness once she realized how terrible she was about to look to move the van, to which she responded something along the lines of, "I was only there for a second, I'll move it right away!" Strange, I feel like I've heard that somewhere before.
|could be anywhere, really.|
My South Philly-parked car was "relocated" for paving on Oct. 19. I freaked out, wrote a Clog post about the ordeal, looked for it, freaked out some more and finally found the damn thing a handful of days later, with the help of about a half-dozen city agencies and their employees of varying degrees of uselessness. (No offense, June of the Streets Department.) You may recall Oct. 28's Million Stories:
After one final hiccup (in which the tow truck driver called me to say he'd found my car at Sixth and Morris, although it looked more gray to him than silver maybe because it wasn't my car), I got my Honda back: It was at 11th and Wharton, one measly block from where I'd been searching the night before. It was parked across the street from the Police Department, covered in dirt. No tickets, no damage.
That was a month ago. Trees still had their leaves back then. Halloween candy hadn't yet been replaced by Christmas wreaths at CVS. The Phils were still in the game.
Looks like, as of yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer's finally caught on: In Sunday's paper, Monica Yant Kinney reports on the business of relocation from the perspective of a young kid, Alec Nelson, whose car got moved.
"According to the Third District," he shared, "the car was towed to the 1700 block of South 12th Street." â¦ Nelson was dubious, but rushed to the spot.
"That was one of the first places I looked," he said, calling from the block. "It wasn't there then. It's not there now."
The next day, [Deputy Streets Commissioner Stephen] Buckley went back at it. Perhaps someone had misread the file? In short order, a highway engineer found Nelson's car one block away, at 1605 S. 12th St.
"Maybe I missed it, but my friends and I were on that block a bunch of times," Nelson said after finding his Focus. "The cynical side of me thinks it wasn't there to begin with."
I feel for you, Alec, believe me. But ... this whole thing sounds awfully familiar. Kinney even stole our damn (OK, kinda obvious) tagline: Dude, where's my car? C'mon guys. Way to stay on top of things.
Sunday night at 8-ish, I drove around my East Passyunk neighborhood looking and looking and looking for a parking space and finally found one on the 900 block of teeny-tiny Fernon, between Tasker and Morris. This is not an unusual way to spend an evening.
The next morning, my car was gone as were the rest of the vehicles on that block replaced by monster street-destroying trucks, sitting there munching on the asphalt on which I'd treaded just 12 hours before.
Shit, the impound lot. I've seen Parking Wars. I don't want to go there.
So I called 311, our non-emergency info line. The busy, sorta annoyed 311 folks told me that sometimes the city "relocates" cars for paving purposes, and that if I called the Streets Department they could tell me where exactly my car was. They transferred me.
The Streets Department lady, while griping that the 311 people shouldn't have transferred me to her, was very helpful and looked up my plate number on various slow-moving computer screens till she eventually came to the conclusion that, since the relocation had just occurred, my plate probably wasn't in the system yet. I should poke around the neighborhood, and if I still can't find my car, call my local Police Department (holler, Fourth District).
So I poked. Up 10th street, down Ninth, in and out of the little streets I couldn't imagine a tow truck could even squeeze through. I even walked up and down the aisles of the Acme parking lot like a crazy person, but nada.
This morning I called the Fourth District, and the busy, sorta annoyed lady on the phone told me that the tow companies who relocate cars for paving don't record plate numbers, or where they put the cars. "It's probably in a five-block radius of where you parked it," she said. "Just look around for it, and if you don't find it, call 911."
Now, I don't really consider this an emergency emergency I don't rely on my car, I just kinda want to, y'know, know where it is so I'll be spending the evening combing the streets of South Philly, again, on what's starting to seem like a never-ending scavenger hunt for my silver Honda. (Which is, apparently, the same car everyone else in South Philly drives, too.)
Is this happening to other people? Is it taking you forever to actually find your relocated car? If the five-block-radius rule is true, then my car could be anywhere from Broad to Fourth, Federal to McKean. Wish me luck, and share your own relocation woes in the comments if you like.
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