The Department of Investigation began a probe this week into allegations that Sanitation workers purposefully staged a slowdown during the Blizzard clean-up as revenge for department budget cuts. There have already been reports that Sanitation bosses purposefully targeted certain well-heeled neighborhoods, such as Borough Park, to "gin up the p.r. machine," and that Sanitation workers were instructed to use a variety of tactics to stall the clean-up process. And what were some of those tactics? Getting plastered, or calling in "sick."

The DOI is investigating a report that a group of on-duty Sanitation supervisors allegedly bought alcohol and then hung out in their department car for hours Monday night. And they allegedly did so while blocks away there was a bus and three snowplows stranded in the snow. According to witnesses, four Sanitation workers were seen buying two six-packs of beer from a Brooklyn bodega; the group then sat idly in their car at 18th avenue near the F train entrance, ignoring the stuck plows and bus. The next morning, they were overheard telling their supervisor that they could do nothing about the blizzard because they had run out of gas, but one witness told the Post, "They just sat in their car all night with the heat running." Some angry locals saw the Sanitation workers buying the beer, and shouted, 'How can you do this? You should be outside!' " In response, one of them said, 'Don't worry about it. We know what we're doing."

And if they weren't drinking, then they may have been sleeping at home: between 660 and 720 Sanitation workers called in sick on Monday and Tuesday last week. That's more than double the usual sick rate, and nearly 12 percent of the entire downsized Sanitation department. So while the failure to properly and efficiently clear the streets post-Blizzard may have been "character building" to some, it sounds like it was character failure for many others.