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
Local

Neighbors testify at Overbrook roommate slaying trial

Neighbors and roommates were called to testify Wednesday in the trial of Renaldo Robichaw, 56, charged with murder for the death of roommate Albert Smith, 48.

Local

Attorney at heart of alleged insurance fraud took…

A Center City personal injury lawyer took his own life last week, days before D.A. Seth Williams released an indictment putting the lawyer at the heart of an alleged insurance…

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

National

U.S. soldier convicted of WikiLeaks crimes granted name…

By Carey Gillam(Reuters) - Former U.S. soldier Bradley Manning, who is serving 35 years in prison for turning over classified files to WikiLeaks, can exchange…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

Movies

Latin culture highlighted at Filadelphia film fest

Get ready to have a “Bad Hair” day at the upcoming Filadelphia Latin American Film Festival. We mean that in the best possible way. The…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

Books

A debut novel about fate, love and moving…

Pia Padukone talks about her debut novel, "Where Earth Meets Water."

NHL

All signs suggest Steve Mason will start in…

Flyers head coach Craig Berube elected to put Steve Mason in net for the final minutes of Game 3.

NHL

Gary Bettman praises Philly prior to NHL draft

Gary Bettman will bring the NHL draft to Philadelphia this summer.

NHL

Flyers can’t solve Rangers shot blockers

The Rangers blocked a remarkable 28 Flyers' shots Tuesday night.

NHL

Flyers need much more from Claude Giroux

The Rangers have successfully shut down Claude Giroux so far, leading the Flyers 2-1 in the best of seven series.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."