Philadelphia union leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty Jr. is returning to the board of the Delaware River Port Authority, as the designee of Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
Dougherty, business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, was a DRPA board member during the Rendell administration.
He warred publicly with DRPA chief executive John Matheussen, calling for his resignation, and he urged the DRPA to try to sell PATCO, its tollpayer-subsidized commuter rail subsidiary.
Matheussen resigned in January, when Gov. Christie appointed him a Superior Court judge.
Dougherty, a Democrat, was an ally of Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner, DePasquale’s predecessor, in trying unsuccessfully to use money earmarked for economic-development projects to postpone bridge toll increases instead.
DePasquale said Thursday that Dougherty will exercise the auditor general’s vote on the DRPA board when DePasquale is not available. DePasquale rarely attends the board meetings personally.
“During his previous service on the DRPA board, Dougherty helped initiate internal reforms that still need to be fully implemented,” DePasquale said in a statement Thursday. “His knowledge of the authority and the region will be invaluable as we look to implement additional reform measures to keep the trains, elevators and escalators working for the riders.”
Dougherty said Thursday he will renew his scrutiny of PATCO, which he said “has a tremendous amount of problems,” pointing to recent train delays and escalator and elevator failures.
He said he would work with Pennsylvania state legislators who are preparing bills to overhaul the DRPA’s charter.
“I’ve always been about trying to make the bridges as cheap and efficient as possible,” Dougherty said.
“I’m going to be no different than I was before. I’m going to open up by saying, ‘Now, where were we?’ ”
Dougherty called the appointment “short-term,” but did not indicate how long he expects to be on the board.
The Pennsylvania auditor general is one of 16 board members, eight each from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The DRPA operates four toll bridges, the PATCO commuter rail line, and a summer ferry linking Philadelphia and South Jersey.