A reporter’s battle with North Philadelphia contractor continues

    Over the weekend I shared my colleague Elizabeth Fiedler’s firsthand account of frustrating efforts to get the city to crack down on a contractor who was littering her North Philadelphia neighborhood with construction debris. As she explained, she’d repeatedly called the city’s 311 line and other offices and agencies looking for help.

    City officials finally responded in a big way after Channel 29’s Claudia Gomez saw Lizz’s account and did the piece above about the problem.

    The city’s department of licenses and inspections issued several violations notices against the contractor, KDM Construction. When the violations weren’t abated, the city posted a “stop work” order at the site Wednesday morning where KDM was renovating a building.

    Fiedler reports to me that yesterday, within hours of the cease work order’s 10 a.m. posting, work had resumed at the site. She says she called 311 to complain, and they suggested she call 911 to get a more prompt response.

    Police responded to Fiedler’s call and work stopped, but only until the officers left. Fiedler went to the site to see if the Cease Work Order was still posted. It had been removed.

    Fiedler says the contractor, Kevin Mathiesen, approached her to within a foot or two, told her to stay away from his property and workers, asked which house she lived in, asked if she didn’t have anything better to do than interrupt his work, and said she was annoying.

    Fiedler reports that when she asked him to back up, he replied, “why, are you afraid of me?”

    Fiedler contacted 311 and L&I again to tell them work continued at the site. They assured her that the Cease Work Order was still in place, even though it had been removed. Fiedler called 911 as advised by Councilman Darrell Clarke’s Office and a 311 operator to report the contractor’s conduct.

    Officers came to her home and saw work was still going on. An officer called 311 to confirm the Cease Work Order was still in effect, and said 311 had no record of such an order. As a result, the officer said she couldn’t halt construction and left.

    Fiedler called 311 and L&I to confirm that the Cease Work Order was still in effect and was assured that it was. When Fiedler went to look for herself, she saw the order had been removed.

    Fiedler says an L&I Manager came out last night with the police, spoke with the contractor, and posted a new Stop Work Order.

    I’m sure we’ll come back to this story at some point.

     

    [View the story “Elizabeth Fiedler’s L&I headache” on Storify]

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