Philly Controller Demands L&I Demolition Reports - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Collapse on June 5, 2013 in Center City Philadelphia killed 6 and injured 13 people

Philly Controller Demands L&I Demolition Reports

City fires back, telling Butkovitz to "man up and stop rattling his saber."



    City Officials Face Off Over Building Inspection Controversy

    City of Philadelphia controller Alan Butkovitz exercises his subpoena power on the Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013)

    Philadelphia's Controller is demanding that the Commissioner for the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections turn over records for inspections that date back to 2009 as well as the hundreds of inspections that were conducted in the days immediately following this summer's fatal Market Street building collapse.

    Alan Butkovitz issued a subpoena today to Carlton Williams, ordering Williams to appear before him -- with documents in hand -- and testify for as long as necessary on Monday, October 7.

    Butkovitz wants the demolition inspection reports to complete an audit he launched more than a month after the June 5 collapse, when a building under demolition came crashing down on top of the Salvation Army Thrift store next door.

    First Look at Video of Center City Collapse

    [PHI] First Look at Video of Center City Collapse
    Surveillance video from a SEPTA bus captures the moment of collapse, when a building under demolition crumbled on top of the Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market Street in Center City. Two employees and four customers were killed during the June 5th collapse.
    (Published Thursday, July 18, 2013)

    The accident buried people alive, killing six and injuring 13.

    Inspections were done on more than 400 properties in the week following the collapse. Butkovitz claims the city isn't cooperating with his attempt to answer key questions, especially concerning that batch of inspections.

    "First question is, 'Were the inspections done at all, were they documented?' Secondly, if they were done, how well were they done? Who did them? How long did they take," Butkovitz asked.

    L&I did provide a copy of records that show how many buildings passed inspection and how many failed. Butkovitz told NBC10's Daralene Jones that information is not sufficient.

    "We need to know what was done; see original records," he said.

    For his audit, Butkovitz also asked for inspection reports for other demolition sites in the city that date back to 2009. Butkovitz says he resorted to a subpoena after asking repeatedly for the records.

    "I think it's very obvious that the Nutter administration at a very high level have decided that they want to obstruct this audit. It's a very serious concern for us and it should be to the people of this city," Butkovitz said.

    The Nutter administration says they have consistently been giving Butkovitz everything he has requested.

    "In no way is the Nutter administration or L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams obstructing the controller’s audit. In no way are we dragging our feet or digging in our heels or doing anything except to answer his questions. We have been providing information to him since August 7," said Mark McDonald, Mayor Michael Nutter's Press Secretary. "What we’ve come to realize is that he keeps adding on new things he wants. The latest piece [records dating back to 2009] is probably going to require something on the order of 4,000 pages worth of documents. We are working on that now. As you can imagine, those are all individual records. We have to manually go and get all these records.This will take some time."

    McDonald suggested that today's subpoena was less about the audit and more about political showboating.

    "Bottom line, the man simply needs to man up, call Carlton Williams, set up a meeting and stop rattling his saber," McDonald said.

    Harvey Rice, First Deputy City Controller said, "If they have the inspection records, why the gamemanship. Just produce them as is done in every other audit."

    District Attorney Seth Williams is conducting a grand jury investigation into the collapse and several other arms of government are investigating as well, including city council. A council committee conducted hearings over the summer to learn more about the demolition process and how it can be revised to prevent future calamity.

    The council's 80-page report is expected to be issued tomorrow.