At a strategically planned press conference held just before the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s board met for the first time since Vince Fenerty, the agency’s former chief, resigned, Joe Hohenstein blasted PA Rep. John Taylor and the Philadelphia GOP.
Hohenstein, a Democrat running an uphill race against Taylor in the 177th District, buttressed by three constituents holding anti-PPA placards, spoke to a small gathering of reporters. He focused on the GOP’s silence surrounding the sexual harassment scandal that led to Fenerty’s resignation last night, hours before what would have been a likely board vote terminating his 33-year career at the agency – although he will get to keep his six-figure pension.
“I am challenging John Taylor to come forward,” Hohenstein declared. “I am asking him to do two things: Denounce Mr. Fenerty publicly and take accountability for what John Taylor knew and what the GOP knew, and explain why nothing more was done” about Fenerty’s history of sexually harassing subordinates at PPA, which, according to stories broken by Mike Newall at the Inquirer, stretch back at least to 2007.
"Joe Hohenstein is in a very difficult spot," Rep. Taylor replied. "He is running a campaign with zero traction. This is a desperate attempt to tie me to something that had nothing to do with me. I am not only a father to two daughters, but I also employ many females. I certainly denounce his behavior, and his disposition is justified there."
In response to Hohenstein's assertions against the local GOP, Taylor said, "Our involvement with the Parking Authority as a party means we get to make recommendations for employment, as do Democrats – we have nothing to do with day-to-day decisions on the board, and we have no responsibility for people’s behavior in the workplace."
Albert Eisenberg, communications lead for the Philadelphia GOP, added: “As far as what we knew: We were following along with the news just like everyone else was. If he wants to be consistent - and the Democrats and the media want to be consistent – they can go ahead and condemn Leslie Acosta, who is still a Representative, still on the ballot and is convicted, and Vanessa Lowery Brown and Larry Farnese, who have been indicted. I would like to see him go after people who were convicted of crimes and not just for internal issues.”
For Hohenstein, Taylor’s position as chair of the Philadelphia GOP and his 32 years in the House, combined with his role as the most powerful Philadelphia Republican in Harrisburg and his relationship with Fenerty – who is a Ward Leader in Taylor’s district – necessitates accountability.
“As the main Republican legislator from Philadelphia," Hohenstein emphasized, "he had a role in creating the administrative structure” of the PPA, “which receives much of its authority from the state, not Philadelphia.”
Asked what he would do if elected to the Legislature, Hohenstein replied that he would hold hearings. “I would inquire into the situation at the state level. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg” of issues at PPA. “I think there are greater problems. One of the things we need to be mindful of is, we are talking about a public and civic trust.”