Clout: GOP perk teaches PPA a few lessons

Posted: June 17, 2011

THE PHILADELPHIA Parking Authority, that bastion of Republican patronage in a Democratically controlled city, had a problem:

Its staff, from ticket writers on the street to supervisors in the office, was doing a bad job filling out the agency's many forms.

The PPA solution: A remedial English class taught by Jim Dintino, a ward leader, executive director of the Republican City Committee and a former teacher.

Dintino's "personnel development" classes run for 90 minutes, twice a day, once a week. They focus on basic writing skills such as grammar, spelling and vocabulary, and how to use them when filling out PPA reports.

"We have a lot of intricate forms that aren't being filled out right," PPA spokeswoman Linda Miller told us. "It's a refresher course."

Dintino, who taught English at Camden County Vo-Tech in the late 1970s after graduating from Temple University, said the agency asked him to develop a 10-week curriculum. The classes started in March. Some staffers volunteer for the class; others are sent by their supervisors.

"I've gone to great lengths to let them know we're not trying to punish anyone," Dintino said. "We don't test anybody. I'm not going to grade anybody, and I don't use a red pen."

Dintino, who is paid $90 an hour as a consultant, also helps the agency provide parking information for tourists, prepares newsletters and brochures, assists with website design and scans social-media sites for complaints about the agency.

Dintino signed a $4,000-per- month contract with the Parking Authority in 2003, two years after Republicans in the Legislature engineered a coup allowing the GOP in Philadelphia to seize control of the agency.

He was paid $48,000 per year until 2008, when the agency changed his contract to pay him $90 per hour. At that rate, Dintino was paid $3,150 per month for all of 2009 and 2010. The classes have boosted his pay to $4,050 per month as of March.

Dintino is still listed as executive director of the Republican City Committee, but recent finance reports show that he has not been paid for months.

"That position doesn't really exist," he said. "There's no money for it."

Capozzi's 258G bet

Real-estate broker Barbara Capozzi put up $200,000 of her own money to seek a City Council seat in the May 17 primary election, losing by 40 votes to state Rep. Kenyatta Johnson.

She invested another $8,000 in the campaign last week, a day before she contested the election results in Common Pleas Court. And Capozzi this week, with her husband, deposited $50,000 for a bond ordered by a judge to pay for the court case if her challenge fails.

Johnson this week asked the judge to toss Capozzi's case out of court, saying that her claims of misdeeds in polling places lacked specifics, contained no allegation that any voter acted illegally, and came too late in the game. He said state law requires a bond posted by a third party, like a bank, and not a candidate. Kevin Greenberg, Johnson's attorney, said that requirement is a "check on frivolity" that prevents candidates from paying for baseless challenges. Capozzi's attorney, Joe Doherty, noted that Johnson was citing a 1937 legal case about the bond. "The cases that are cited are 80 or 90 years old and aren't even interpretations of the current election code," Doherty said.

The 2nd District covers parts of South and Southwest Philly and Center City, had been held by retiring Council President Anna Verna.

The T. Milton Street ticket

T. Milton Street Sr., the former state senator and ex-con who took 24 percent of the vote in his primary challenge of Mayor Nutter, raised almost no money for most of his campaign but raked in $18,500 in the last two weeks before the election.

That included $2,500 each from four candidates running for judge, including one that was the last chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. He also got $1,000 from his brother, former Mayor John Street, and his wife. Councilman Bill Green chipped in another $2,500.

Street explains that the judges wanted to be on his ticket since he was so popular with voters.

He was clearly tickled to have forced Nutter to spend money on a primary challenge. "I'm telling you, I had him on the run," Street said.

Nutter raised $254,726 from May 3 to June 6, spent $585,423 and still has $936,259 in the bank.

Quotable:

"I'd rather run for governor in two years rather than mayor in two months."

- Tom Knox, deciding he won't run as an independent against Nutter in the Nov. 8 general election.

Have tips or suggestions? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or e-mail

brennac@phillynews.com.

Check out the Clout blog at:

www.phillyclout.com.


Have a news tip? Gossip? Suggestion? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or Catherine Lucey at 215-854-4712. Or e-mail phillyclout@phillynews.com.

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