Sanitation workers slowed efforts result of budget protest? Update: Criminal probe?

I’m not sure how much faith you can put in reports from anonymous New York City Sanitation Department employees who met with a city councilman yesterday, but you might as well read about it. They say the “message” sent – supported and encouraged by management – was in retaliation for demotions, attrition and budget cuts.

Obviously, clearing upwards of 20 inches (or more) of snow from New York City is a pretty big task. Where do you put the stuff? From what I understand, they need to use dump trucks to move it out of the city. That said, a few employees charged with driving the trucks and clearing the snow anonymously reported to some city officials this was an underground effort to throw some power around after management had to deal with recent budget cuts. From the New York Post.

Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts — a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned. …

“They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important,” said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot.

Halloran said he met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department — and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan — at his office after he was flooded with irate calls from constituents.

OK, can some real journalists look back at previous snow storms and research how well the Sanitation Department did clearing snow? It really can not be all that hard. There were four snow storms that dropped more snow, so I’m wondering how long it took the city to clear the streets back then?

More questions…

  • Have they have the same issue with stuck cars, trucks and buses in the past?
  • How many trucks with plows did they have during previous storms as compared to this storm?
  • How do the equipment and manpower resources compare from storm-to-storm – measured against resident satisfaction after the storm?
  • Is this situation really unprecedented?

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air is skeptical.

I’m a little skeptical, but mainly because the primary source for the conspiracy theory is an elected official who can expect to be held accountable for the poor performance thus far in the Big Apple.  Also, the Twin Cities had the same level of snowfall a few weeks ago, and snow removal was a problem for us, too.  Minneapolis/St Paul and the first-ring suburbs have a large amount of infrastructure to deal with heavy snowfalls and about a fifth of the population, and we still have huge piles of snow blocking sidewalks downtown.  Heck, we can’t even get the Metrodome fixed; now, the estimate for repair and reinflation is the end of March.  I’m not sure that NYC could have done better, with its relatively smaller snow-removal infrastructure, lack of places to put the snow, and population density.

Bret Jacobson at Big Government compares this storm and the Post’s report to the hidden disaster of government pension and benefit promises that can not be sustained. I think those issues stand well on their own, without the need to use the recent blizzard as a prop to help define what’s wrong with the system.

Sister Toldjah is also writing on the subject.

Update (JV): Governor Patterson is calling for an investigation into the charges, according to the NY Post online site.

“I just think the whole thing would be outrageous, if it’s actually true.”

Miles of roads remained treacherously unplowed as of last night, days after the blizzard dumped nearly two feet of snow on the city.

Paterson, who lives in Harlem, said the snarl has left New Yorkers “scratching their heads” since the city handled a similar storm so well last year.

“That always gives way to a lot of rumor and innuendo, which I think we should probably table until there are facts to back that up,” Paterson said.

The governor, nonetheless, said any slowdown could be considered criminal.

Update (Steve): AJ at Strata-Sphere blog is calling for criminal charges. Kyle Olsen at Big Government

Plain and simple: the union leaders who called for the job action should be charged with negligent homicide.

5 replies
  1. Anne-EH
    Anne-EH says:

    What took place over the last few days in NYC not only shows government union(s) incompetence, but it is borderline criminal to say the least. This could be to Mayor Michael Bloomberg as Katrina was to former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin!

  2. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    If true, the union leaders should definitely be charged with negligent homicide, as Kyle Olsen stated.  At least one child (baby, I believe) lost its life because emt's took hours to reach him/her.

  3. GdavidH
    GdavidH says:

    I'm with you Lynn. This is a perfect example of why municiple or gov't employees should never be allowed to unionize.

     Think of it this way…You have an employee you can't terminate, suspend or discipline in any way without consent from that employee's union and he's sticking his tongue out at you while he's not doing the work you hired him to do. And every year you have to give him a raise.

  4. Pathfinder
    Pathfinder says:

    Just few thoughts, If the truth comes out and these supervisors did order the slow down, The City needs to put those supervisors or union leaders in jail and disband the union. The city needs to send a clear message that this tipe of blackmail will not work.

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