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Report Blames City For Failing To Heed Warnings Before Deadly Market St. Building Collapse

By Walt Hunter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A report by the Mayor's Special Independent Advisory Commission, following a 10-month investigation, found the deadly June 5, 2013 building collapse that killed six and injured 14 at 22nd and Market Streets was "a symptom of larger, long-standing problems" with the City's Department of Licenses and Inspections, which is mandated with ensuring safety at demolition sites.

The 90 page report claims "the City's regulatory controls in place at the time were inadequate and there was a lack of effective action on the part of L & I personnel."

Quoting the report, the Commission's executive director, former U.S. Attorney Peter Vaira, told CBS3's Walt Hunter, in his only "one-on-one" television interview, "the Commission has found that the City did not respond to several warnings that the demolition was a dangerous operation that could and did lead to dire consequences."

Mayor Michael Nutter, formally accepting the report of the 22-person Commission at a City Hall press conference, announced he would take some steps immediately, including shifting overall responsibility for L & I to Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison.

The Commission's 36 recommendations include separating L & I  into two separate departments, one of those new departments-the Department of Buildings-to be headed by a "licensed professional engineer or registered architect."

The Mayor also announced he is appointing a committee to study and implement other recommendations, adding that some of the changes could be complicated involving labor issues and cost factors.

The Commission's Report begins with a quote from Nancy Winkler, the City Treasurer, whose daughter, Anne Bryan, died in the collapse. Executive Director Vaira credited relentless pressure from the vicim's family with helping to bring about creation of the Commission and the proposed reforms that could save other lives.

In an emailed response to the Report, Bryan's mother and father stated, in part, "A focused professional and adequately funded building code enforcement program, along with safety first contractors, owners and architects, can prevent disasters such as the one that killed our daughter, Anne."

The contractor and a heavy equipment operator conducting the demolition have been arrested, and are now behind bars, awaiting trial on murder charges.

A grand jury investigating the collapse still has not made its findings public.

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