Doc: Market Street collapse site was ‘absolute recipe for disaster’

building collapse
A victim injured in the Market Street collapse on Wednesday is carried out of the rubble. Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

The now-collapsed property at 2136-38 Market Street, which was previously under demolition, was “an absolute recipe for disaster,” according to Local 98 business manager John Dougherty.

He said he’s been hearing rumblings about possible problems and safety violations at the site, whose demolition was being overseen by nonunion Northeast Philadelphia contractor Griffin-Campbell Construction, LLC.

“But this is deeper,” Dougherty said Wednesday, calling the collapse – in which 14 people were injured and six killed – a “sad metaphor for the whole enforcement of the entire city’s construction issues.”

Overall, the observation and enforcement of construction safety standards in Philadelphia is crumbling, according to the union leader.

“It used to just be we weren’t getting our taxes,” he said.

“Now we’re losing people.”

Department of Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Carlton Williams said Wednesday afternoon that Griffin-Campbell had a valid demolition license and there were no recorded L&I violations associated with the project.

“Let me ask you a question,” Dougherty retorted. “How many people have to die before L&I does something?”

He suspects that though there were no L&I violations recorded, there were likely plenty of 311 complaints logged.

If the city won’t properly monitor the industry, Dougherty said, the state should step in.

“The state checks barbers out,” he pointed out. “If you buy a hot dog on the corner, they have to make sure the person’s licensed.”

According to documents released by the city, though Griffin-Campbell was the primary contractor handling the demolition, Plato Marinakos, Jr. of the Plato Studio architectural firm was in February listed as the primary contact on the demolition permit application.

His capacity? Expediter.

As the title suggests, expediters are people with intimate knowledge of local zoning codes and permit processes and – for a fee – speed up the paperwork process for contractors who go on to actually complete the construction.

“I see it every day – expediters don’t know what they’re doing,” Dougherty said flatly. “Could the expediter tell you if the walls were underpinned? Could the expediter tell you if a guy was licensed to run material on the job? Was the expediter on the job on a weekly basis, or did he just make a fee to pull a permit?”

He said even when violations are handed down, those who receive them rarely take them seriously.

“Maybe they should charge one of the expediters as a co-conspirator to manslaughter,” he said.

Dougherty is calling for stepped-up L&I enforcement penalties.

“You’ve got the whole political environment screaming to take over Traffic Court,” he said. “We should have a few politicians screaming to take over L&I and start putting some enforcement in it. The fines alone would pay for the enforcement, the taxes we would collect – and we would not lose people.

“The city has a responsibility here, too, today. That expediter has a responsibility today.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…