If your car is parked in a no-stopping zone in Center City, you will, no doubt, get a $51 ticket. Your car might even be towed. But if you’re a Republican senator of the United States, well, the rules are apparently just a little bit different.
On Wednesday evening, as I was in Center City to cover the protesters surrounding the Republican retreat at the Loews Hotel, I saw a Philadelphia Parking Authority agent working his way up the 1400 block of Sansom Street. (Yes, the same PPA that has long been a Republican patronage haven in Philadelphia.)
As he lumbered along, the agent encountered an illegally parked orange Jeep Wrangler JK. It was in a clearly marked no-stopping zone across the street from the side entrance of the Union League. (Yes, the same Union League that has been a Republican stiff-shirted haven for many years.)
The Jeep wasn’t just parked in a no-stopping zone — it was also partially blocking the exit for a busy parking garage during a very busy evening in Center City.
The PPA agent dutifully whipped out his little ticket-writing gizmo, the way he would for you or for me.
But then, a curious thing happened. The driver of the Jeep, a well-dressed middle-aged man with one of those fancy-looking security earpieces, went to talk to the agent. He didn’t flash a badge or any kind of credentials. He just told the agent that he was there to pick up a U.S. senator — a Republican senator — from the Union League. The agent told him that he was fine where he was.
I told the agent that he should ticket the senator’s car just as he had undoubtedly been ticketing other vehicles that night, but the PPA agent had no response. When I said, “He’s clearly parked illegally,” the PPA agent waved me off. For one last attempt, I asked the agent why the Jeep wasn’t getting a ticket, the same way that I’ve received dozens of tickets, including some on this very block of Samson Street. He just moved along to ticket the rest of us.
The senator’s Jeep remained illegally parked — and, again, partially blocking the garage exit — for at least 15 more minutes, so it wasn’t like the senator was leaving immediately. Then, finally, the Jeep’s designated passenger exited the Union League.
I couldn’t get a clear view of the man, because he was surrounded by a bunch of other men. He was, not surprisingly, old and white. Coulda been Mitch McConnell. Maybe Orrin Hatch?
Whichever old, white Republican senator it was, Sen. Pat Toomey and some other white guys exited the Union League immediately behind him, destined for another car that had pulled up (illegally) behind the Jeep. And then, as the Jeep reversed, Toomey had to leap out of the way to avoid being hit.
“There are a lot of people out there who wished you’d hit him,” I jokingly shouted out to the Jeep driver.
“Well, that would have been true a few months ago,” responded one of Toomey’s white male pals, a real prepped-out type, referring, I’m guessing, to the time before Toomey threw his white, male, Republican support behind Trump.
The PPA has yet to provide a comment on the incident.
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