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A new city report suggests that City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) was on a mission to prove there was a work slowdown among city workers following the Dec. 26, 2010 blizzard that crippled Queens and the other boroughs.
The thorough investigation by the city Department of Investigation directly discredits Halloran’s claims that a deliberate, concerted slowdown was behind the several days of uncleared roads in northeast Queens after the storm.
“In toto, Mr. Halloran’s information about city employee statements contributed no actual evidence about a possible slowdown,” the investigation concluded.
Halloran released a statement Friday evening responding to the report, which was released earlier that day.
“As the report states, the DOI was unable to track employees and get the quality of testimony it would like to have. Disturbing questions remain about why plows went down streets with their blades up or sat unmoving for hours as the snow fell,” Halloran said in the statement. “I am hopeful that the City can move on and fix the many issues that plagued the snowstorm response. My constituents expect me to shed a light on problems and come up with solutions, and I am going to do that, even when it makes the powers that be uncomfortable.”
The DOI said in the report that it interviewed two Department of Transportation employees who contended they never said they had evidence of such a slowdown.
Halloran told investigators the two DOT supervisors came to him after the storm to confess that they had been a part of a widespread, orchestrated effort to slow the clean-up process in the aftermath of the storm to “send a message to City Hall,” according to the report.
One of the two workers told investigators that neither of them told Halloran they had been a part of, or had evidence of, such a labor action. The two also said it was “upsetting” to see in media reports after their conversations that he had “mischaracterized their words” in order to use their alleged admissions as evidence of such a scheme, according to the report.
“[DOT] Supervisor 2 said Mr. Halloran was trying to ‘get information out of him’ as well as [DOT] Supervisor 1, about the alleged slowdown, but he explained they did not have any knowledge of a slowdown,” the report said. “Supervisor 2 said that the meeting was very uncomfortable and he felt like Mr. Halloran was ‘annoyed’ that they did not have any information that would confirm a slowdown.”
One of the two supervisors said Halloran was brashly seeking evidence to back the alleged slowdown storyline, according to the investigation.
“As they were leaving the meeting, Mr. Halloran said, ‘If you don’t want to talk, I will find a disgruntled worker who is ready to retire who is,’ according to Supervisor 2,” the report said.
Despite a discussion about possible conflict of interest issues related to his providing law services to them, Halloran refused to tell investigators the names of three Department of Sanitation workers he said also corroborated the slowdown narrative.
The report blamed the slow rate of street clearing throughout the city on a combination of other problems, including but not limited to the sheer amount of snow that accumulated in a very short period of time, the number of cars that drivers abandoned on roads, bad planning by the city, understaffing and inadequate snow chains on plows.
The report — for which the DOI interviewed more than 150 witnesses, elected officials, members of the public and city employees; read numerous e-mails, reviewed photos and videos provided by the public and law enforcement sources; issued numerous subpoenas; and worked with several city prosecutors — will be referred to the Sanitation Department, the Brooklyn and Queens district attorney’s offices and the U.S. Attorney’s office for New York’s Eastern District.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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