As Philly City Council holds another hearing on building collapse, members upset with mayor

Philadelphia City Council is pressing for more answers on what could have been done to prevent last month’s fatal building collapse.

Council members are upset that some city officials would not answer follow-up questions.

Councilman Jim Kenney is angry the Nutter administration refused to provide officials from the Department of Licenses and Inspections and the fire department to answer questions that have come up since previous hearings. For example, he would like to ask the fire department if it should have power to shut down a job site that looks unsafe.

“I think that when they look at a construction site and the saw something they thought was out of kilter they would speak up and speak up loudly,” said Kenney. “They should have the authority to stop a job if they think it’s imminently dangerous to the public.”

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Mayor Nutter’s spokesman says both the fire department and licenses and inspections have submitted written answers to follow-up questions.

Alvin Davis is a crane operator and demolition expert whose resume includes tearing down the old Spectrum sports arena in South Philadelphia.   He says some L & I inspectors don’t have enough experience to spot problems on a demolition job.

“L & I may come by, they may not have demolition experience they might not know what safety precautions to tell you to take. They may not know all that,” said Davis. “Only thing they want to make sure, You got your permit, yes, you got your water and all of that off yes.”

Lawyer Bob Mongeluzzi represents the estate of one person who died in the collapse and several others who were injured. He says those who testify before the committee cannot hold anything back.

“Somebody’s answers should not be dependent upon on whether they are sued, gonna be sued never going to being sued,” said Mongeluzzi. “The facts are the facts and the families want to know what the facts are and they want to know why their loved ones died in the rubble of Market Street.”

More hearings are planned. Council already has a few bills pending that would address problems brought to light by the building collapse.

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