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Building inspector fell after climbing guard rails
Original post made
on Apr 25, 2012
A City of Palo Alto-contracted building inspector who plunged to his death down an elevator shaft had climbed on two guardrails that gave way, according to an investigative report.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 9:56 AM
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2012 at 7:28 am
> Why is it necessary for people to know every detail of
> every project accident when very few impact on their own safety?
> The word voyeurism comes to mind.
This kind of comment is truly surprising, particularly since the Weekly just spent a considerable amount of effort trying to investigate the fatal accident on the Caltrain tracks at Alma and Charleston within the last couple of issues. The Weekly, found (as has the Daily Post) that the government is not very responsive to Public Information Requests at a given situation, particularly when there is the possibility that the City might be (at least) partially responsible for the accident. This situation is another example of that lack of openness, and sense of basic responsibility to the public.
While there are not a particularly large number of incidents involving City property/employees that occur on a yearly basisthey do, in fact, occur. Thinking back a few years, there was the incident with Police Officer Louis Verberra, the Lee-Kan attack on a motorist, a civilian 911 operator who was charged/convicted for invading the privacy of others by improperly accessing police records, an EMS attendant who was charged/convicted of some sort of fraud within the past couple of years, the scandal at the Utility, a fatal shooting in the Corporation Year back around 1989, a Utility employee who threatened to kill his co-workers, was fired, then re-instated by an "arbitrator". And this is but a short list, given a sufficiently long time-line.
When these sorts of events occur, if the City were to demonstrate a core commitment to honesty, integrity, and openness, a short statement/press release would be issued by the City's information officer, stating just enough information to inform the public of the situation. Such a statement would treat those involved, and the public, with a certain amount of procedural dignity, while not providing any significant detail which might prove erroneous under further investigation.
The following is an example of such a press release, that might be issued for the kind of accident that involved this contract worker
Time: 12:00 PM
Subject: Accident Involving City Contract Worker.
On December 6th, 2011, an employee of the 4Leaf Inc., was injured in a fall into an elevator shaft, in a building under construction in the 1700 block of Waverly Street (near Lowell). Gary Collins (43), a resident of San Ramon, was performing inspections for the City of Palo Alto, in support of the Planning Department's Code Enforcement Division.
The Palo Alto Police Department has begun investigation. Cal OSHA will also be investigating the incident.
Incident Resolution Date:
The accident report will be available no more than five working days after completion of the Palo Alto Police investigation.
AAA BBB in the Code Enforcement Division at 650-xxx-xxx (AAABBB@cityofpaloalto.org) should be contacted for further information.
This kind of direct, succinct, statement/announcement would go a long way to answer initial questions, reduce the need for local media outlets to have to chase after basic information, and reduce the implications that the City is involved in cover-ups.
Although this particular example is probably short a few necessary details, the time it would take to write up such a press release, based on a template, would be only a few minutesmaking it no great burden on City Staff.
In this particular case, it would seem that the City was not directly involved, other than in the selection of the 3rd-party to do the work needed to facilitate the timely completion of construction inspections. If there is some liability to the City, that fact will come out, sooner or later. This sort of initial event announcement is not intended to provide many detailsjust the basics.
In the case of the man who died, working for the Cityhe had a name, a family, and should not have been treated by the City as if he didn't exist. This behavior certainly devalues not only the man's contributions to the City, but his very human essence.
Anyone involved with well-run organizations will recognize that being open and honest is a much better way to deal with the aftermath of situations that might be unpleasant. The City of Palo Alto has not distinguished itself in this areaparticularly in this case.