Sunday, November 29, 2015

City Controller to probe demolition practices

The city's fiscal watchdog, Alan Butkovitz, plans to join three other agencies looking at city demolition policies in the aftermath of last month's fatal building collapse.

City Controller to probe demolition practices


City Controller Alan Butkovitz is planning an audit of city demolition practices, on top of at least three other investigations already in progress after a deadly Center City building collapse last month.

The controller’s office sent a letter Wednesday to the city’s commissioner of licenses and inspections, Carlton Williams, saying it intends to audit “the policies and procedures” used by L & I and other city agencies to monitor both private and publicly-funded demolition projects inside city limits.

“The objective of this audit will be to evaluate the adequacy of the inspection and enforcement procedures pertaining to building demolitions, including the 300 demolitions the city reportedly inspected after the June 5, 2013 Market Street building collapse,” deputy city controller Gerald V. Micciulla told Williams.

The letter said the controller’s office intended to interview L & I’s management and staff, look through a variety of documents and observe L & I operations at active demolition sites.

The district attorney’s office, City Council and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are already conducting overlapping investigations, spurred by the June 5 building collapse at 22nd and Market streets. Six people died and 14 were injured when a four-story brick wall collapsed on top of a Salvation Army thrift shop.

The DA’s office has convened a grand jury to look into potential criminal charges. City Council has been looking into demolition practices in general, avoiding specific focus on the June 5 accident, and OSHA has been looking into possible violations of federal regulations focused on workplace safety.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Hepp, Tricia Nadolny, Julia Terruso, and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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