Jim Kenney Would Hire a New Boss for L&I

The Democratic mayoral nominee made the announcement after GOP rival Melissa Murray Bailey called on embattled L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams to “resign immediately.”

Clockwise: Jim Kenney, Carlton Williams and Melissa Murray Bailey.

Clockwise from the top: Jim Kenney, Carlton Williams and Melissa Murray Bailey.

No matter what the outcome of the mayoral race this fall, it looks like Philadelphia will be getting a new Licenses & Inspections chief in 2016.

At about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, GOP mayoral nominee Melissa Murray Bailey called on L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams to resign in a press release. Hours later, Democrat Jim Kenney’s campaign told Citified that Williams would not be commissioner if he is elected this November.

“If Jim’s elected, Carlton Williams won’t be the L&I Commissioner in 2016,” said Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Kenney. “Jim doesn’t think it’s fair to place the blame squarely on Carlton for L&I’s long-term, systemic problems, but there’s clearly a desire for change.”

She did not elaborate any further.

The announcements by Kenney and Bailey come after several negative news articles about L&I. Earlier this year, the Inquirer reported that contractors had torn down buildings without the proper city permits and that rookie L&I workers had inspected dangerous buildings. Yesterday, Citified reported that L&I paid $15,000 to run advertorials on Philly.com designed to boost the department’s image.

Here is Bailey’s full statement on Williams:

L&I’s purchase of propaganda articles on Philly.com to improve their image is just another example of Philadelphia wasting our hard-earned tax dollars. While the everyday actions of L&I have resulted in multiple building collapses, unlicensed inspectors inspecting our homes and political vendettas against beer gardens, the commissioner tries to sell the city’s citizens on the improvement of the department with words instead of actually improving the department. For too long L&I has been run as a corrupt political machine, whether it is inspectors taking bribes or the decision of city council to include political ward committees in the zoning process, it is time for a change. I call on Commissioner Carlton Williams to resign immediately and I promise you as Mayor I will reform this corrupt institution for the betterment of all Philadelphians.

With both the Democratic and Republican mayoral nominees vowing to get rid of him, will Williams resign now? He did not immediately respond a request for comment. Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said Mayor Michael Nutter “fully supports” Williams, and defended L&I’s advertorials in a statement.

“City departments including L&I use a variety of means to communicate with their customers and taxpayers in order to provide the very best service. We use social media; we put public service announcements on Channel 64 and have a robust city website that helps residents and businesses,” said McDonald. “Political candidates will say and do what they think will help them win favor with voters. That is their business. Our business is serving the public each and every day and that is happening at L&I and throughout the government.”