Morning Headlines: Advisory Commission Sums Up What’s Wrong with L&I

"It's purely a management problem."

Photo by Bradley Maule from  June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

Photo by Bradley Maule from June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

Months after the botched demolition that left six people killed in the neighboring Salvation Army store, Mayor Michael Nutter signed an executive order that created the Special Independent Advisory Commission. The group was tasked with studying the ins and outs of the Department of Licenses and Inspections and presenting recommendations for its improvement. Those findings were finally published last week.

SIAC chairman Glenn Corbett and executive director Peter Vaira spoke with Marty Moss-Cane of WHYY’s Radio Times about the commission’s data yesterday in an interview, which you can listen to here. Below, some snippets:

On what they discovered about L&I…

Vaira: “[W]e realized it’s purely a management problem. [S]omebody had to run it and be on top of it from the beginning. One thing we learned is there was nobody in charge. I was questioning a number of the folks in charge of the vacant buildings […] They said, ‘Mr. Vaira, we don’t have any one person. There’s seven or eight people you’d have to speak to.’ Well, right there is a problem. There’s no line of command…”

On what they think should happen to L&I…

Corbett: “We’re calling for a much more streamlined, primary focus of building safety…a  new organization, basically. This is what we believe will put that on the front burner.”

Said new organization would be the proposed Department of Buildings. However, some folks think splitting L&I in half is not the answer. Here’s what Vaira had to say about former L&I Commissioner Bennett Levin’s comment about leaving the department as is because, as he put it, “sometimes doing nothing is better than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”:

Vaira: If that’s the best he can do, he’s in bad shape. We put out some very, very solid recommendations. Very solid, very detailed…as a result of a lot of studying. For somebody to say it’s going to cost too much money is not an answer. We put it out there, tell us what you think of it piece by piece. It’s a very superficial answer.”

Salvation Army building collapse report [Radio Times]

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