Mayor Michael Nutter, with just about 70 days remaining before he leaves City Hall on Jan. 4, announced Monday that he has referred media allegations of record-tampering within the Department of Licenses & Inspections to the Office of the Inspector General.
"If true, the allegations are unacceptable," Nutter said at a press conference Monday of a report claiming 82 private demolitions were not properly inspected by Licenses & Inspections (L&I) this year, published over the weekend in the Inquirer, which he called a "tremendously troubling story."
"We must get to the bottom of it," he said.
The allegations in the article include that only 17 percent of demolitions reviewed were correctly inspected by L&I under new guidelines, that some L&I records contain contradictory information, and comments from sources indicating that some inspectors may have altered records in computers to conceal record-keeping errors.
Nutter has pushed for reform at L&I in the wake of the June 5, 2013 Salvation Army collapse that killed six and wounded 13 people, which was widely seen as a failure of L&I, the city's regulatory agency in charge of building standards and construction safety.
An independent commission Nutter put together ordered widespread reforms at L&I last year. Nutter said L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, who did not attend the press conference, is leading an "active, aggressive effort" to implement reforms, but some employees may be undercutting his efforts.
"I can tell you from firsthand knowledge that ... unfortunately, there are some people who want to support those changes and there are some who are desperately fighting to hold on to the status quo, and they are fighting those changes within the department," Nutter said.
Inspector General Amy Kurland declined to estimate how long her investigation will take.