Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections delivered a three-page document and a reference to a 3,000-page report to the Controller’s Office in response to a request that the Controller be allowed to monitor demolition procedures.
Controller Alan Butkovitz has accused L&I of “stonewalling,” and based on comments by the Butkovitz’s deputy Harvey Rice, the document seems to have made things worse: ”Basically, what they did is evasive, which raises even more questions about their inspections and the work of L&I on demolitions and other matters,” Rice told the Inquirer.
Read more here.
Fox 29's own screen shot
It’s as if a virus has overtaken the city, or maybe it’s more like when someone tells you they just got a red Fiat and all of a sudden you can’t stop noticing red Fiats everywhere. Unfortunately, a red Fiat is benign (provided you like Italian automotive engineering) and building collapses are not. Yesterday afternoon [...]
A screen shot from NBC 10 of the partially collapsed house in North Philly. Complaint calls had been made to L&I for years, according to residents.
As we reported, City Council hearings on the building collapse at 22nd and Market continued yesterday with a raft of testimony from former L&I personnel, including onetime commissioners Fran Burns and Bennett Levin. While Burns was asked questions about the way demolition practices were implemented during her tenure, which lasted through last summer, Levin read [...]
Before he killed himself, L&I inspector Ronald Wagenhoffer made a video for his family on his camera phone, saying, of the building collapse, “It was my fault. I should have looked at those guys working, and I didn’t.”
Fifty-two-year-old Ronald Wagenhoffer, who worked for the Department of Licenses and Inspections for 16 years, was found dead last night in his car in Roxborough. The cause of death is being labeled a suicide, though only the medical examiner can make the final determination. Looks pretty definite, though, given a text he sent his wife.
A 2009 Google Streetview of the vacant lot where the construction site now is.
A dividing wall at 606 S. Eighth collapsed this morning, leaving eight people displaced though none injured or dead, which marks a significant improvement over last week. The heavy rain–not laced with marijuana, to our knowledge–seems to be to blame.
Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin, who lives nearby, wrote that neighbors were nervous something like this might happen:
Griffin-Campbell Construction, the contractor for 2140 Market Street, was listed on the demolition permit that was granted to the project’s expeditor, L&I spokesperson Maura Kennedy told us today. That was echoed by L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, who told the press that the proper permits were pulled and that Griffin-Campbell–hired by STB Investments, aka Richard Basciano, who owned the building–was licensed as a contractor.
Griffin-Campbell is indeed listed on L&I’s website under Licensed Contractors, but what does that mean? Kennedy says it means they’ve gone through the necessary steps for licensure, including obtaining appropriate insurance. But unlike some of the other specialized licenses, contractors don’t need to take an exam or have specialized training–to put it lightly. In fact, pretty much anyone you’re sitting next to, looking at, thinking about or hating on right now could be a demolition contractor.