A council staff member to perform duties for Local 98
Council member Henon asked his taxpayer-funded council staff to do work on John Dougherty’s behalf that was only peripherally related to council concerns, Holroyd testified today.
One example is Holroyd’s work on a deal between Comcast and Dougherty in 2016 on which workers would install the company’s cable lines and how much they would be paid. Those talks came months after the city’s own negotiation with Comcast over the renewal of the company’s franchise agreement – its contract to operate a cable network in Philadelphia – had already been settled.
Henon is tasked with helping Dougherty fit into the franchise negotiation and secure concessions from Comcast, in return for a bribe in the form of pay for walk-in work at Local 98.
Just ahead of a crucial final deadline for a board committee vote on the franchise agreement in December 2015, Henon asked Comcast’s chief negotiator to meet with Dougherty in his office. Holroyd, who was present at the meeting, said Dougherty described the suspension of the legislation earlier in his career in an attempt to get council members and the mayor to take him seriously. Dougherty said “it could very well happen again” with the Comcast bill, Holroyd said.
The committee subsequently voted in favor of releasing the franchise agreement measure, and the full board approved it later in the month. But Holroyd’s work to help Dougherty secure concessions from Comcast was only just beginning.
From December 2015 to May 2016, Holroyd worked on a letter that would commemorate Comcast’s agreement to hire only union contractors affiliated with the Building & Construction Trades Council, an umbrella organization led by Dougherty, for certain types of installation work. of cables. These workers would receive federally regulated “going-in” rates of pay.
Holroyd’s contact on the Trades Council was James Foy, an official at Local 98, who used him as some sort of secretary to edit the letter. At one point, Foy emails a draft of the document in a format Holroyd cannot edit, so Holroyd tells Foy that he will “reconstruct” the document in other software.
“Are you the one working to draft the private agreement between Comcast and Dougherty?” Witzleben asked Holroyd.
Hockeimer objected to his use of the word “private,” so Witzleben rephrased the question. Holroyd said he understood he was “rebuilding” a deal between the cable giant and the union boss.
“How are you doing with the project? Foy wrote to Holroyd in May 2016.
“I was just criticized last week,” apologizes Holroyd, referring to his main responsibilities as the legislative director of Henon. “I hope to have something by the end of the day.”
In July 2016, Holroyd was finally able to send a final version of the letter, which he said had been the subject of “a lot of review and referral with Councilor Henon.” Hockeimer asked if he knew if the terms of the letter had already been implemented, and Holroyd said he didn’t.
Holroyd said he also performed various other duties to help Local 98 during the two years he worked for Henon. For example, a political consultant with union ties would often come to Henon’s office to type up reports on board meetings for Dougherty, and frequently had technical issues that he asked Holroyd to help him with.
Holroyd, who left the Henon office in 2018, said he was sometimes asked to investigate construction projects that had been brought to the attention of the board member by officials from Local 98 and others. Dougherty frequently asked Henon and other board members to ask the Licensing and Inspection Department to investigate projects carried out by non-union contractors, according to pre-trial testimony.
In some cases, Holroyd has been ordered to investigate work sites that were not in the Henon Municipal District, 6th Ward, violating the tradition of city council prerogative. “It was not generally the practice of one district council member to review … properties in another council member’s district,” he said.
Prosecutors produced emails from Local 98 official Robert Bark about projects in West Philadelphia and other areas outside of the 6th District, which Henon forwarded to Holroyd with instructions to contact Bark and find documents to help him with his investigations.
The trial, now in its third week, takes place two years after federal prosecutors filed a sprawling indictment of 116 counts against Henon, Dougherty and several people with ties to Local 98 The charges have been split into two trials, the current case being the corruption charges against Henon and Dougherty. It should last another two to three weeks.
Disclosure: Electricians Union Local 98 represents engineers, camera staff, fitters, audio and maintenance technicians at WHYY.