DRPA defends top lawyer against Dougherty complaint

Posted: July 15, 2010

The leaders of the Delaware River Port Authority board on Thursday defended the agency's top lawyer, whose resignation is sought by board member and Philadelphia labor leader John J. Dougherty.

Dougherty sent a letter to DRPA general counsel Richard Brown last Friday, accusing him of refusing to respond to Dougherty's questions about hiring practices and internal reports.

Dougherty, one of eight Pennsylvania representatives on the bistate board, told Brown in the letter that "I will be asking for your immediate resignation at the next DRPA board meeting," which is scheduled for Wednesday.

DRPA chairman John Estey and vice chairman Jeffrey Nash on Thursday issued a brief statement, saying they were "reviewing Commissioner Dougherty's letter, and we will provide the answers he seeks, just as we have in the past for him and just as we do when any DRPA commissioner requests information."

Estey, a Pennsylvania member on the board, and Nash, a New Jersey member, said there "has never been any intention to disrespect Commissioner Dougherty, either at the board or the staff level, and we value his participation on the DRPA board.

"That said, we also want to be clear that Richard Brown is an outstanding lawyer who has served the DRPA for 20 years with integrity and the highest degree of professionalism, and none of the issues raised by Mr. Dougherty change that fact."

In his letter, Dougherty, business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, also attacked Brown for rolling his $9,000-a-year car allowance into his salary, "thereby increasing your DRPA pension," despite management assurances that DRPA executives would not get raises.

Dougherty complained about his unanswered requests for information about the recent removal of board secretary John Lawless, a former Pennsylvania legislator. And he said he wanted more information about an internal investigation of former DRPA public safety director Vincent Borelli, who left in June 2008.


Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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