Sympathy for L&I

Philadelphia Building Collapse

On October 30th, Mayor Nutter announced the creation of a blue-ribbon commission to examine the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) in a never-ending reaction to the June 5th building collapse at 22nd and Market Streets.

The panel is the latest in a sequence of investigation and rage after the disaster, which includes voluminous op-eds in the dailies and a formal investigation by the City Controller’s office. This chorus can lead one to believe the catastrophe was singular. In scope, it was; the collapse killed six people and was one of the largest structural disasters in recent municipal memory.

But Market Street was the Sandy Hook of building collapses. Buildings were falling before, and they have they fallen since.

Read more »

Feds Issue Big Penalty for Building Collapse Demolition Firm

Small comfort though it may be for the families affected by the June building collapse on Market Street, but OSHA–the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration–has dinged two of the big players with nearly $400,000 dollars in fines: $383,000 for Campbell Construction, which led the demolition, and $84,000 for the contractor they hired. “This tragic incident could and should have been prevented,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels, in a press release.

Here’s what OSHA said Campbell Construction did wrong, according to the release.

Read more »

Lawyer for Ousted Penn State Prez Graham Spanier Will Lead Investigation Into L&I

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Well, this is odd. Yesterday Mayor Nutter finally announced the creation of a 16-member panel that will evaluate the Department of Licenses and Inspections, and the panel’s executive director will be former U.S. attorney Peter F. Vaira, an expert in organized crime and defense attorney for ousted Penn State president Graham Spanier.

Spanier, you might remember, was accused in the Freeh report of covering up allegations against Jerry Sandusky for more than a decade so that the school’s reputation and football program would not suffer. He was later charged with perjury, endangering the welfare of children, criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and failure to report suspected child abuse.

Read more »

Mayor Nutter on Building Collapse: Oh, All Right, I’ll Appoint a Commission Already

The mayor finally got the message: The citizens of Philadelphia — and a member of his own administration who lost his daughter in the Salvation Army building collapse — were tired of waiting for a promised-but-not-yet-delivered creation of an independent review commission to investigate the incident.

Last week the Daily News’ Ronnie Polaneczky wrote a column in which she noted that the day after the tragedy, he said he’d convene the commission, yet he still hadn’t as of her writing. It was appalling. We said, “Take some time out from your schedule…and GET IT DONE.” Today at 3 p.m. Nutter will officially announce the creation of an independent advisory commission not just to review the accident, but to evaluate the Department of Licenses & Inspections overall. Now that’s getting it done.

Morning Opinion: Nutter Is Dragging His Feet on the Building Collapse

Philadelphia Building Collapse

We’re calling it opinion, but perhaps it’s more like fact. As Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky points out today, after the building collapse at 2140 Market Street, Mayor Nutter promised to convene an independent, blue-ribbon commission to assess the accident. He has not done so. On Monday, Nutter’s spokesman, Mark McDonald, told Polaneczky it would happen “very soon.”

“He said the same thing 37 days ago,” she writes.

Though Polaneczky keeps an even tone, bringing in Nancy Winkler and Jay Bryan, whose 24-year-old daughter Anne was killed in the collapse, to make the point, it’s actually something of an outrage that Nutter is putting this off. Winkler tells Polaneczky:

“[This] was a horrific, avoidable crime that was the result of a widespread, systemic failure to put public safety first.”

Now, Winkler and Ryan “want the city to use this moment to undergo an honest examination of the systems, people and processes that affect building, demo and development in Philly.”

Winkler, who is city treasurer, sure is optimistic for an insider.

Mayor Nutter, what are you afraid of? Or, to put it more generously, take some time out from your schedule — which today includes officiating at a first-grade safety officer’s swearing-in ceremony — and GET IT DONE.

Seeing the big picture of the Market Street collapse

Read more »

Building Collapses in West Philly

West Philly Building Collapse

A home in the Cedar Park section of West Philadelphia collapsed Monday night. A neighbor, who said he’d  called 911 about the property, explained that the home had been in the process of a controlled demolition that was being conducted by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

Read more »

Building Collapse Architect Plato Marinakos Refusing to Produce Subpoenaed Documents

Philadelphia Building Collapse

It has been four months since the tragic building collapse at 22nd and Market streets, where six people died and 13 more were injured. Several personal injury and wrongful death suits have been initiated in civil court, and demolition equipment operator Sean Benschop is facing a variety of charges, including involuntary manslaughter. And now architect Plato Marinakos finds himself in Philadelphia’s federal court after refusing to provide subpoenaed documents to authorities.

Read more »

Showdown: Alan Butkovitz Vs. L&I

Alan Butkovitz

Alan Butkovitz. Photo: Cbrblessing

Last Saturday, city controller Alan Butkovitz continued something of a public siege against the beleaguered Department of Licenses and Inspections when he called 911 to complain about a hazardous building on 24th and Thompson Streets. The next day, L&I demolished the building, and by Tuesday, the incident had been reported in the Inquirer.

“The neighbors said they had been calling for weeks about this problem,” he told the paper. Maybe they had, and maybe they hadn’t. Maybe the vacant rowhome was in such a derelict condition that it would have continued a long spate of building collapses. And maybe it wasn’t.

What’s certain is that, correctly or not, L&I came out of the incident looking indolent and unresponsive, an image it has been trying to fight since the 2140 Market Street disaster on June 5. Read more »

Today’s Headlines: Are Rats Bad News for Rittenhouse Realtors?

rittenhouse rat

Photo by Bradley Maule

We’ve all known they’re there, but seeing a video is something else. Under the headline “Rats living large in Rittenhouse Square,” philly.com’s Emily Babay posted a video taken on Sept. 23 that will horrify all but the staunchest rodent fans. In the film, large rats run back and forth across the grass — and when we say “large,” we mean “gigantic.” And so many of them!

This is the second time the Rats of Rittenhouse are getting bad press; Philly Mag’s Victor Fiorillo did a piece on them in May.

This can’t be good news for brokers who market the Square as an upscale locale, which, of course, it is and always will be. And never fear: Many years ago, when rats were a problem in the park, poison was employed and they all died (as did the squirrels, which was really a shame). The city will find a way to get rid of them.

Read more »

Morning Headlines: City Has Higher Standards for Its Own Demolition Projects

Philadelphia City Council’s special committee to investigate the building collapse at 22nd and Market has released its findings this morning — and it ain’t pretty. The Special Investigating Committee on Demolition Practices’ report can be read cynically or pragmatically, but reading it in the former fashion might lead one to believe the city cares less about its citizens than covering its collective governmental behind. From CBS Philly:

The 70-page report from City Council’s makes clear that the city imposes higher standards on its own demolitions than those carried out by contractors on privately owned buildings.  For example, contractors demolishing public buildings must submit a criminal background check and provide evidence of competency and experience.

We’ve written before about the lax requirements for becoming a demolition contractor for private jobs, but to seem them in contrast with city requirements is offensive and discouraging.

Read more »

« Older Posts  |  Newer Posts »