Griffin Campbell
Griffin Campbell

I hate writing about contractors.  Out of all the people that issue ridiculous threats to me, it’s mainly from the scum of the earth dirtball contractors and their subs that wanna get closer to “real”.   So, I don’t write about them unless their shit gets way over the top to the point where more than 20 people are pissed off.  I can handle lawsuits, I attract lawsuit threats like a glue trap.  In the world of construction though it’s filled with stupid mooks who didn’t get far in life past their stint in Catholic school.

But that’s not the case here.

Griffin Campbell, the contractor who caused the Market Street building collapse was sentenced today to 15-30 years in prison.

The judge was not kind.  He stacked the sentences for each one of the fatalities and injuries consecutively.  This means tomorrow morning he will be put on a bus and sent to SCI Graterford or another lockup upstate, far away from Philly.

Campbell is of course only one small piece in a tapestry of failures that led to the tragedy on Market Street.  The primary culprit is of course the guy who ordered the cheapskate demolition in the first place, property owner Richard Basciano and his holding entity STB Investments.

Richard Basiano [NY Daily News]
Richard Basiano [NY Daily News]

Basciano is among the worst of blightlord-sleaze in this country.  He acquired his Market Street parcels from the estate of Samuel Rappaport, another notorious (and infamous) Center City blightlord. With cowboy hat and loud beltbuckle, Rappaport wined and dined Philly pols, sent cash in envelopes to city officials and employees while he scooped up real estate from under their noses.  Even after Rappaport died his property management skills still managed to terrorize Philly residents.  One of them was a parking garage off Pine Street with a dodgy facade that partially collapsed and killed Common Pleas judge Berel Cesar. It’s only fitting that Basciano entered the picture to continue the Rappaport property management model.

Immediately after the Market Street collapse Basciano went into hiding in his Symphony House pad.  He had good reason: the survivors of the victims soon discovered that Basciano was at the property site during the collapse, personally overseeing the work.

Basciano is getting a come-uppance that the criminal justice system is unable to provide.   STB Investments and Basciano are currently deluged with the perfect shitstorm of personal injury and liability lawsuits.

One of the new civil cases filed against Basciano comes from Liberty Bar and Grill and its former proprietor, Michael Kenish.  In that complaint, Kenish states that debris from the collapse damaged and forced the closure of his business.  He is seeking restitution to be made whole on lost income from unplanned street closures.

Basciano himself is up there in age.  That photo of him I put on this thread is from at least ten years ago, back when he was lauding over an article about himself for riding the porn wave of New York’s Times Square’s former heyday of sleaze to its current Madison Avenue/Disneyplex commercialdom it is today, and the revaluations of real estate values that came along with it and made him the “porn king”.

While Basciano might feel proud of what he did with his New York portfolio, he will go to his grave as a murderer here in Philly.  He murdered those people, each and every one of them.

I really hope Richard has something planned for his internment—like cremation or a burial deep inside of a tomb.  If it’s just a grave and a headstone I think that’s a perfect place to set up a remote memorial for what he’s done to our city, to the victim’s families, and the scars he will leave behind after he is dead.

Today Griffin Campbell is going to state lockup to cover for Richard’s crimes.   That is wrong.  That isn’t justice.   No one is celebrating this.  It is Basciano who needs to be put away.

For now we will have to settle with the satisfaction that there are well over a dozen law firms who can smell his money for miles away and want every stinking cent of it right now and long after he is dead.  Whoever gets the hot potato of dealing with Basciano’s estate after he finally croaks is going to be getting a tsunami of court notices in the mail.  I wonder who wants to inherit that headache.

Let that be a lesson for you cheap bastards who cut corners and make others pay for it with their lives.

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Note:  Yup, this is a rant.  If you’re not interested in rants today, then move along.

[Feeling helpless after the building collapse?  Donate to help defray the funeral costs of the victims.]

Michael Nutter, I have to say I haven’t been more frustrated with you at any point in your career since I’ve lived in this city until this moment right now.  I watched the pressers and your frustration with handling them all day Wednesday.  The entire universe for a fleeting moment was focused on tragedy in the urban core of your city, the city you command and control, and it made Philadelphia look like a city in the third world.

What’s the difference between the Rana Plaza building collapse and the, what I shall dub anyway, the Basciano Collapse?   The Rana Plaza garment factory collapse has actually led to a worldwide movement to shop for guilt-free clothes.   What reform movement will come from the Basciano Collapse?


I want you to look at this picture.  Look at her carefully.  What are you going to tell Anne’s mom and dad?  Have you talked to them yet today?  Will you ever?

Anne Bryan [Photo from PAFA]
Anne Bryan [Photo from PAFA]

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2035 E Hazzard has a fairly gruesome reputation:  it’s where junkies rent-to-die.

Just today a Fire Department rescue team was called out to bring a stretcher to this house in Kensington.  Inside, a known drug user has overdosed for the last time.

This isn’t the first junkie to die there.   Or the second.   This is the third.

Herbert Werner, a known absentee property owner in the area who lives in the suburbs, owns the house.   It has no rental license, and L&I has been to the house three times before.

We can’t tell if Werner is an actual landlord making oral or written deals to put people into this home, but this certainly is not a legal rental property.  Neighbors on the block strongly suspect each occupant in this property to date have all been squatters.   Each time the property is occupied, shootings occur.

Someone has tried to pay off one of the tax liens in hopes that the City doesn’t come and take the property to Sheriff’s Sale.  Given that yet another squatter is going to move in (there’s never a shortage of them), maybe it’s time something is done to clean this house up and to take it out of Herb’s hands for good.   This community of homeowners deserves better.

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Michael Nutter (cred: CityPaper)

A nice little soundbite for sure from our mayor:

Now there are some other trifling, raggedy people around here who can actually pay, who don’t pay…

And from the Jan Ransom & Sean Collins Walsh article in this morning’s Inky, the mayor sounds serious, right?   This is the time we’re going to go after the deadbeats, right?  Right???

Of course you know me–this quip from Michael Nutter is utter bullshit.  There’s some establishment pieces in the way of property tax collection reform.  The biggest one:

The Sheriff’s Department is a universe of of laziness.

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