Searching for answers in the rubble of the disaster at Windermere Court.
He’d have to see another cat in the window today to secure another warrant.
Suddenly, a shouting match erupts as residents begin yelling while in line to hand in their lists.
I begin recording the scene when a man approaches me and asks me to stop.
“People are just frustrated,” he says. “C’mon. You shouldn’t being recording this.”
I tell him I’m a reporter and ask him who he is. “Just someone helping out,” he responds.
Afterward, ex-residents identify the man as co-owner David Ginsberg. When I approach him a couple hours later and ask him for comment, he denies involvement and laughs, “I know nothing! You know more than me. I should be asking you!”
Alexandra of City Kitties says that later that night, the Ginsbergs “changed their tune” and allowed her to set some traps.
Indeed, Rocco, the eighth and final rescued cat, survived 39 days abandoned in the building. He is suffering liver damage from starvation due to the delay.
“I’ve been in, but I want back in,” says ex-Windermere tenant Daniel Samson, 28.
Unlike most residents who say they’ve called the owners to no avail, Samson says he has spoken directly with the Ginsbergs. Unsurprisingly, Samson says that the Ginsbergs have explained the situation is in the hands of L&I.
“That’s not true,” says Mark McDonald, spokesperson for Mayor Nutter. “The company that owns the building controls the site, not the L&I, not the city. So if people weren’t being let in, it’s under their control … The building is controlled by the owner, not L&I.”
Vail says that not only was access to the property was in the city’s control, the city has filed a lawsuit against Keystone Management demanding demolition. “We were sued because the building was not down yet, so there’s lawsuit from the city,” he said.
Frances Burns, commissioner of L&I, says that while there was a lawsuit filed, it is being distorted when used as a reason to deny ex-residents access onto the property.
“We declared the building imminently dangerous which means that it should be repaired or demolished immediately, and that we usually like to see an action plan immediately and see an owner taking steps to that end,” says Burns. “A distinguishing factor of this is that we’ve seen owners take a variety of steps that have actually placated tenants, acting in that private relationship between an owner and a tenant and part of that problem here is that did not happen immediately. I don’t think it was a matter of L&I interference.”
In other words, there was no legal reason the owners could not have coordinated the salvage day earlier than 36 days after the fire.
At least one resident says he’s involved in a class-action lawsuit.
“We have an attorney group that’s waiving all fees and is going to support all tenants,” says Samson. “[The suit] is already signed and ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Christine Reimart of local PR firm Devine + Powers—hired to speak for the Ginsbergs once the heat was on—points the finger in yet another direction: the Philadelphia Fire Marshal.
“It wouldn’t have been the owners the building. [The building] was sealed for two weeks [following Jan. 10]… by the fire marshal because it was so structurally unsound,” says Reimert. “The owners weren’t able to have access either.”
But residents say they’ve seen maintenance men going in and out of the building the whole time. In fact, a few charge that one maintenance man in the particular was spotted—and photographed—leaving the building with a pickup truck that, in the words of one angry former resident, “was full of stuff that wasn’t necessarily building materials.”