Last week, several press outlets reported an increase in violent incidents on the Market-Frankford Line, a trend that was brushed aside by SEPTA.
Well, towards the end of today's 20 minute rubber-stamp session of the SEPTA Board, recently "re-elected" board chairman Pasquale T. Deon, Sr. was kind enough to interrupt his life (undoubtedly, it's difficult to run a SEPTA Board meeting and plan a fishing trip at the same time) to swear in 22 new SEPTA Transit Police officers. Hmmm, that's never happened at a SEPTA Board meeting; usually, new officers are sworn in at the Philadelphia Police Academy.
The timing of the swearing in certainly looks suspicious enough. Less than a week after SEPTA's Minister of Mis-Information Richard Maloney denied that there was a crime increase on the El - a statement that was directed to the press after a Fox 29 videographer was assaulted at the 5 St El Station - or that it was part of a pattern involving students from an alternative high school (read: school for troublemakers), SEPTA attempts to stage a dog-and-pony show by swearing in new officers.
That's not to say the officers weren't going to be sworn in this week, but given the suspicion that tends to follow SEPTA - particularly after the Silverliner V fiasco-in-the-making - one can't help but wonder if this was a perfectly timed PR move by SEPTA. If it was, it didn't seem to work, as besides the two major Philadelphia dailies, I didn't notice any other members of the press at today's meeting.
Meanwhile, in other non-PR stunt related news...
The Silverliner V contracts were not awarded today, as expected. The contracts were delayed after Common Pleas Court Judge Matthew Carrafiello issued an emergency restraining order prohibiting SEPTA from awarding the controversial Silverliner V contract to United Transit Systems. The order was requested by Kawasaki after it filed suit in Common Pleas Court earlier this week.
There was a rumor (as yet unconfirmed) that the start of the meeting was delayed nearly 15 minutes while "Don Pasquale" and SEPTA's chief legal counsel were awaiting a ruling that would've allowed SEPTA to award the contract but delay executing the order pending the court hearing. Since the board usually meets in executive session (outside of public view) prior to the start of the public session, it's impossible to confirm, as legal issues are often discussed in executive session (which is permitted under state law). Or, the report could've been gallows humor and not neccesarily true, but nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to SEPTA...
Wednesday's Inquirer report on the injunction
Wednesday's Daily News report on the injunction
More news and notes will be posted by tomorrow, or as time permits...