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
National

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

National

Cleavage complaint: Disneyland staffer orders curvy mom to…

A curvy mom-of-three says she filed a formal complaint after staff at Disneyland Resort in California ordered her to cover up her boobs. Melissa Behnken,…

Local

Supporters say man accused of robbery was misidentified

A Liberian immigrant couple charged with extorting money from an elderly woman in March will be in court Thursday for a bail hearing, but supporters say it's a case of…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.