L&I restructuring brings in some new faces to the department

File photo: Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Carlton Williams has restructured the department and replaced top deputies. He says the staff moves had nothing to do with the Market Street building collapse that killed six people and injured 13 others last summer. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke/File)

The city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections Commissioner has restructured the department and replaced his top deputies, all while a special advisory commission is looking into how L&I should be run.

In a recent interview, L&I’s chief Carlton Williams said that the restructuring has been in the works since last year when the mayor and City Council demanded better oversight and stricter rules from the department — following the June 5 building collapse at 22nd and Market streets that killed six people.

Some of the L&I divisions were handling too many things, Williams said. So, he spread some of the work among some new units — doubling the number of divisions from three to six – and appointed new leadership team. Williams said the staff moves were “voluntary” and that they had “absolutely nothing to do with the Market Street collapse."

Mike Fink, deputy commissioner of development at L&I, was transferred to work on special assignment in the city’s commerce department. Fink, a 26-year veteran of the department who in 2009 was named International Code Official of the Year by the International Code Council, will work with zoning of large development projects that come through the commerce department, Williams said.

Mike Maenner, also a longtime member of the department, will be retiring in early July as deputy commissioner of operations. Williams said Maenner decided to retire on his own accord.

Indira Scott resigned as deputy commissioner of administration and went to work for the Free Library, according to an L&I staff memo outlining the changes that were effective May 5.

Fink and Scott could not be reached for comment. Maenner declined to be interviewed when reached at home.

The new directors are:

Ralph DiPietro, who until recently served as the director of the operations division overseeing code enforcement and business compliance, was named acting deputy commissioner of operations division. 

Daniel Rodriguez, former chair of the city’s L&I review board, a part-time position, will be acting director of the building division.

Dennis Ward, former commissioner of the Historical Commission with experience in insurance assessment investigations, will be manager of the compliance division.

Elizabeth Baldwin, previously a building plans examination engineer within the department, will serve as acting executive director of development services.

Scott Mulderig, formerly served as Chief of Emergency Services and Abatement Unit, was named emergency services director. 

The leadership shuffle comes at a time when the department is being scrutinized from every direction — a grand jury investigation, a special advisory commission created by Mayor Nutter to make recommendations on what changes must be made within the department, a City Council report with 70 recommendations, the Inspector General’s Office and the Controller’s Office.

Former L&I Commissioner Bennett Levin, who since the June 5 collapse has been an outspoken force against the current department, said he was happy to see that the department was restructured to a more efficient model.

“It’s 600 percent better,” than the most recent organizational chart, Levin said.

However, he questions why Williams made the move now when the Mayor’s Special Advisory Commission is looking at that very issue of how L&I should be structured.

“Why not wait for their evaluation of the department before you start shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic?” Levin said.

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