Yesterday, allegations were bandied about that the city's Sanitation Department conducted a massive slowdown during the Blizzard clean-up as revenge for budget cuts. Today, many of those allegations are being reported as true: City Councilman Dan Halloran claims that a group of guilty Sanitation workers confessed the whole slowdown scheme to him. "They were told [by supervisors] to take off routes [and] not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file," Halloran told the Post.
This morning, Gov. Paterson called for a criminal investigation into the slowdown claims. "I just think the whole thing would be outrageous, if it’s actually true,” Paterson said on WOR 710-AM; he stressed that much of this may just be innuendo and rumor, but if not, it would "be a very, very serious breach.” Joseph Mannion, president of the union that represents agency supervisors, said allegations of a slowdown are "hogwash," but added that there is "resentment out there" toward Mayor Bloomberg and his administration due to budget cuts. Because of those budget cuts, the agency's workforce has been slashed by 400 trash haulers and supervisors to their lowest point in years, and 100 more department supervisors are to be demoted and their salaries slashed as of tomorrow.
According to Halloran, the Sanitation workers were instructed to use a variety of tactics to stall the clean-up process; in normal years, they said they would have been much more proactive and aggressive with clearing the snow with such a powerful blizzard. Sources told the Post that drivers were only clearing streets assigned to them, even if they had to drive through snowed-in roads with their plows raised, forcing them to make extra passes, adding time and extra pay. One mechanic told them that some drivers were purposely smashing plows and salt spreaders to further stall the cleanup effort. This still doesn't explain why a snow emergency wasn't declared ahead-of-the-storm, or why the MTA was so unprepared for the weather, but it may explain why some drivers were sleeping in their plows on Monday morning. And reader whitecastlerock tells us:
I am on 36th street between Broadway and 31st ave. It started last night around 10:45PM-the first truck plowed about half way up the block, then got stuck. I left my apartment to run an errand, when I came back 15 minutes later, a whole convoy of sanitation trucks were lined up behind there fallen comrade-like a chain of mechanical elephants. Some of the locals were milling about while the sanitation crew stared at the stuck plow in dismay. They were trying to remove it from the truck itself. There was plenty of cursing and swearing. The other trucks just sat there doing nothing. 4 out of the 5 idling trucks did nothing-the crew remained inside. One of the other trucks was trying to aid with the plow removal. A local was also attempting to shovel out the back wheels of the stuck truck. I went back upstairs and kept hearing curses-around 11:30ish I heard a loud "FUCK YEAH!" with some hooting and hollering. Eventually the trucks backed up and drove off-leaving the wounded truck to fend for itself. It went in reverse and forward-finally freeing itself around 12:15.
Would I classify this as a slowdown? Not really sure, but I failed to see the logic in all of those trucks just standing there doing nothing-considering 31st Ave and others were in shambles. As of today my street appears to have been plowed about 4 times. Note, that the street was unplowed up until Tuesday afternoon because some people abandoned their vehicles in the street. Once they were removed, the trucks came through.