Blue-Ribbon Panel to Probe L&I Failures Leading to Market Street Collapse

Victim's parents, who implored the city to launch independent panel, get their wish

An blue-ribbon commission is being formed to investigate Philadelphia's Department of Licenses & Inspections in the wake of the deadly Market Street building collapse.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced appointments to the independent, 15-person panel on Thursday afternoon.

"A tragedy happened, we know that. We're trying to improve our operations so that something like this might not happen in the future," Nutter said.

The mayor says he's ordered every city agency and employee to cooperate with the inquiry and that the panel has been a thought on his mind "since the day" the collapse happened.

The panelists include construction and demolition experts, university professors, union members and city officials -- a full list is below.

The panel's formation comes after City Treasurer Nancy Winkler and her husband Jay Bryan implored the city to bring together demolition and engineering experts to uncover the failures that led to the Jun. 5 collapse at 22nd and Market.

In that collapse, a four story wall from a building under demolition toppled down onto the Salvation Army Thrift Store next door. Anne Bryan, Winkler and Byran's daughter, along with five others were killed.  Thirteen people were also hurt.

"We just believe that this should have never had happened," Winkler said in Sept. "Our main objective is to ensure that no other parents have to go through what we're going through."

The blue-ribbon panel will be the seventh investigation into the collapse. Other inquiries include a criminal grand jury and OSHA investigation.

In a statement through their attorney Anne Bryan's family said while there no way to reverse what happened, they are encouraged by the mayor's decision to work and prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

The Commission will have our complete support as it conducts what we trust will be a completely independent, comprehensive investigation, and recommends changes intended to make L&I a national model of best practices," the statement read.

Nutter signed an executive order immediately forming the commission and says its members can start their probe whenever they wish.

The commission must return their findings and recommendations to the mayor in a formal report by July 1, 2014. Nutter says officials will then sort through the report and implement what's feasible.

The full 15-member panel will be made up of the following members:

  • Emily Bittenbender of Bittenbender Construction
  • Ryan Boyer of the Laborers District Council of Philadelphia
  • Prof. Robert Brhem of Drexel University
  • Lorraine Borwn of The Temple Group
  • Glenn Corbett of John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • James Dollard of IBEW 98
  • Anne Falludon of the Building Industry Association
  • Prof. Scott Knowles of Drexel University
  • Steven Lakin of the General Building Contractors Association
  • Greg Stewart of Gilbane Building Company
  • Peter Vaira of Vaira and Riley
  • Francis Vargas of Allied Construction Services
  • John Elfrey of City of Philadelphia
  • David Perri of City of Philadelphia
  • Barry Scott of City of Philadelphia

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

Contact Us