Philly Operators Hit The State House

Posted on August 20, 2009 by LCT Magazine

PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured from back left clockwise: James Schantz, legislative aide to Sen. Lisa Boscolla; Philip Jagiela, Aries Transportation Group and PRLA president; Anthony Onorata, Adamo Limousine; Bob Fry, Elite Limousine; Mike Barretto, Flyte Tyme; Paul Mundy, Frankfort Limousine
LINDA MOORE: Yesterday, I spent the day walking the hallowed halls of the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg with members of the Philadelphia Regional Limousine Association. I am always jazzed after a day of lobbying and I want to share my thoughts with you about the experience.
  • Lobbying is hard work. It’s difficult to tell who the good and bad guys are and surprises seem to lurk at every corner.
  • I am always amazed at how few operators go on these visits. The issue that the association is dealing with will save money for every company that does business in Philadelphia. Yet only one operator from Philadelphia attended. (An average of $10,000 per year).
  • Before we left Unique Limousine in Harrisburg where we all met in the morning, the PRLA members who were lobbying reached out to operators in other parts of the state who had representatives that we would be visiting that day asking them to call before we went into the meeting letting them know that they were behind us and asking for support. Pittsburgh operators, Regency (Tom Miller) and All Star (Louis Wiener), stepped up to the task. It was great hearing from the representative that his constituent had called that morning asking him to help us.
  • The plight that Philadelphia operators are going through at this moment is overshadowed by the state still not having a budget. Although many people met with us, the budget dominated everything.
  • Bill Cosby was there at the same time lobbying for the Schools in Philadelphia. (Who do you think they wanted to talk to, us or Jello Bill?)
  • Some nerves were struck yesterday. It was amazing when the first visit we had netted the PRLA a “count me in” vote. The representative made telephone calls to everyone else we planned to visit asking them to also get on board. WOW!
  • Small issues can have big implications. The Philadelphia Regional Limousine Association is not trying to dissolve the Philadelphia Parking Authority but is trying to get rid of the 93 pages of rules that the PPA has written and uses to govern our industry. There are already rules in place written by the Public Utilities Commission and the remainder of the state uses these. The PRLA would like the PUC rules to be the governing documents, not those of the PPA. The PPA is under extreme (well deserved) scrutiny from many people. Lots of other folks would like to see them just go away. They are ducking arrows daily. When the PRLA marched on Harrisburg yesterday, the PPA was again thrust into the forefront. One representative equated the action of the PRLA as a locomotive which has found a track and was rolling full speed ahead. Another said that the PRLA was starting a thunderstorm that needs to be stopped.
  • The Philadelphia Parking Authority has been called a “patronage” machine. What this means is that favor givers, vote controllers, and family members of politicians are all employed by the Philadelphia Parking Authority. This is one scorecard that you need an inside track for. What this means though is that although some representatives are cordial, they may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing if they have gained favor as a result of the players involved with the PPA.
  • One representative did a good job of explaining the trouble with the Philadelphia Parking Authority. He said they take in $440 million. They give the city $25 million and the schools around $230,000. The rest is operating expenses. If you were a CEO running this business, you would be fired. Imagine if they had received TARP funding.
  • The good news is that there are politicians outside the city who loathe the PPA. Some of these folks chair key committees who can get things done but they too need to tread carefully as they have to work with the others. This issue is a hornet’s nest for which there doesn’t seem to be a stick long enough to carry it away.
  • These efforts are going to take a lot more phone calls, letter writing, meetings, and lobbying. The people doing this are business owners and most of them are small. Every day away from their businesses means money out of their pockets, yet they persevere. If more industry members don’t get involved, those leading the charge will burn out. This is a daunting task. David is trying to slay Goliath with a pebble. Those involved has pledged to keep up the fight.
  • Shaking trees in Harrisburg will wake up a sleeping lion as it has done in the past. Expect officials from the Parking Authority to be walking the halls of Harrisburg as early as tomorrow. Those folks though don’t do it on their own dime; they do it on the taxpayer’s dime. Operators will be paying part of that bill.
— Linda Moore, LCT East Coast Editor 
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