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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

Comments (10)

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Posted by More-Information-Needed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm

It’s a real shame that the City seems to want to treat the public as badly as it does, when it comes to be open. Take this case, for instance—if there were a standard, published, procedure that required the City to:

1) Make a statement about the event—that includes the name of the person involved, a short description of the events, a contact person within the City, and some date when there will a more complete report.
2) If the situation is complicated, then one or more intermediate reports should be issued—which contain material that clarifies any previously supplied misinformation, and updates the estimated time of the final report.
3) A final report—which provides all information necessary for residents/interested parties to understand the details that might not have been appropriate to release in the past.

The reports would provide not only information about the event/situation, but would also provide potential witnesses which contact information, should their help be necessary to investigate the event.

This approach would give the public access to information in a procedural fashion that would replace the uncertainty and doubt about the problems that occur from time-to-time on government property, or involving government employees.

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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

More Info: No. That is not how I want my city employees to spend their time. Thank you very much. Fill the pot hole in front of my house. Fix the side walks. Balance the budget. Slow down traffic on Middlefield. Fix Cal Ave.

Spend time writing three different reports about some guy who does not work directly for the city who died? No. That would be called Cal Osha's job. And CalOsha did that and everything has been revealed.

So, what is your issue exactly?

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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm

I heard that was the second accident at that construction site on Waverley St. A construction worker was also seriously hurt a couple of months earlier, working on the same project.

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm

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.

Anon is right. Using PA staff time to report on accidents which are not the responsibility of the City is a waste of scarce resources. Go to CAL/OSHA's web site if you want information.

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Posted by Resident and Employee
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm

These last three comments are some of the coldest and most twisted comments I have ever read - save that of the city not reporting it.

These comments disregard human welfare, and have no responsiblity to our "community".

These same comments above laughably disregard their own participation in exploitation of the city residents ownership of civic enterprise; and the exploitation of civic enterprise by private interests; and by the city managers making 300,000 and 160,000 per year - who install thes contracts as a "savings" to get their own ridiculously higher expolitive salaries.

It will be interesting as the citizens divest themselves of directly responsible employees, who do the actual work, and employees who sincerely feel responsible to our community and civic resources that the residents then see how this all turns out.

You wonder why this community has emotional problems? Start with city management. This article is a prime example.

Managemnt should be ashamed for their lack of responsiveness and disregard for this man's family.

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Posted by lazlo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm

To those posting outrageous, hurtful, self serving, and immoral comments: May your cold hearted remarks regarding human fraility follow you through what seems to be a miserable dysfuntional existence. Perhaps it is the lack of compassion for human life that has made your views so negative. What a pity.

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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 basis—they 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—
Press Release

Date: xx/yy/xxxx

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 ( 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 minutes—making 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 details—just the basics.

In the case of the man who died, working for the City—he 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 area—particularly in this case.

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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2012 at 9:01 am

This guy was not a city employee. His employer has a right and an obligation to investigate his death. The general contactor at the site has the right and the obligation to investigate his death. The homeowner may wish to investigate. CalOsha is required to investigate and report on the accident. It would be an inappropriate use of public funds to investigate this private matter. It would be morally wrong to release a report with his name in it. The city has no jurisdiction in this case. Not all information is public, nor should it be.

I'm not at all sure how any of that is immoral or hurtful as has been suggested. The potential for harm is much greater by releasing detailed press releases so that you people can get your voyeuristic kicks. Where excatly do you want the line drawn? Medical records? Pictures?

Let the man rest in peace. Let his poor wife and kids try to move on and find some peace.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Lazlo - I didn't interpret those comments as nasty, as you did. I can't imagine that any of these commenters don't care about this tragedy. Rather, they're commenting on the best way to deal w/investigating & reporting the events & who should be responsible for doing so.

I'm so sorry about what happened. I can't imagine what his loved ones are going through and I wish them as much peace as possible.

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Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Yes, the CPA should make a basic report to the public in cases where the Taxpayers revenue Might be exposed to claims.

Basic means a report that it happened, to who, on date and place. Nothing more.

Exposed, means ANY payout of city funds that MIGHT be required.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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