Philadelphia, July 19, 2013 – In response to numerous requests for documents regarding 2132, 2134, 2136-38 and 2140 Market Street and the building collapse that occurred on June 5, 2013, the City has begun to post collapse-related documents on its website. The posted records consist of files from the Department of Licenses & Inspections, records from the Department of Health related to asbestos, and emails to and from certain City officials. Though some or all of these records would otherwise be exempt from disclosure under various provisions of state law, the City has, in its discretion, concluded that the public interest is better served by their release.
“The collapse of the building at 22nd and Market was the kind of tragedy that should never recur. Given its magnitude, we of course recognize the public interest in documents pertaining to the events leading up to the collapse, but our responsibility to the citizens always requires that we balance the demand for information with the need to protect the integrity of critical investigations,” said City Solicitor Shelley R. Smith. “Once the District Attorney’s Office notified us last week that the integrity of its grand jury investigation would not be compromised by our release of the information requested, we were able to begin making these documents available. We are pleased to be able to do so in a way that provides access to anyone who might be interested, not just to those who have requested the information.”
In accordance with the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law, the City will respond directly to each individual requester. For further information regarding the City’s Open Records Policy, please visit: http://www.phila.gov/privacy/pdfs/FinalCityOpenRecords.pdf.
“One of the approaches we use as part of the City’s open data effort is to identify information that is frequently requested by outside data consumers and make it available more broadly to other potentially interested parties,” said Chief Data Officer Mark Headd. “By making this frequently requested data available to anyone that has an interest in reviewing it, we are meeting our objectives on releasing open data and fulfilling Mayor Nutter’s vision for a more open and transparent government.”
Additional detail regarding the relationship between the posting of these documents and the City’s Right-to-Know procedure can be found in the notice accompanying the posted documents.
To view the documents online, visit: http://cityofphiladelphia.github.io/disclosure-docs/.