Councilman Dan Halloran spoke with reporters Thursday about allegations made by city employees over instructions from Department of Sanitation supervisors to intentionally delay the clearing of borough streets in the wake of the recent blizzard.
According to Halloran, three Sanitation workers and two Department of Transportation supervisors assigned to DSNY to assist in the cleanup independently contacted the councilman's office with allegations of a "systemic" slowdown.
The claims came one week before 100 Sanitation supervisors were to be demoted as part of the city's austere budget plan.
"The city was compromised because of a labor dispute," Halloran said. "Ultimately, citizens in New York suffered for four days from a storm that should have been cleaned up in 24 hours. "
In recent days, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sanitation officials faced growing public outrage over the pace of snow removal efforts, particularly on side streets in the city's outer boroughs.
Halloran said the two DOT supervisors contacting his office claimed to have waited as long as six to eight hours for Sanitation heads to assign them to help clear streets in Queens — even as the mayor pleaded for private assistance as the full force of the blizzard hit.
In addition, he said two of the three Sanitation workers assigned to northeastern Queens claimed supervisors told them they could delay the clearing of certain borough streets.
"So it appears that the supervisors themselves, at least in the borough of Queens, just didn't want the snowstorm to come to an end anytime soon," Halloran said.
The City Council plans to hold hearings Jan. 10 to investigate what many consider to be a delayed response to a snowstorm that dropped as much as two feet across the five boroughs.
That hearing, called by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, is likely to be dominated by allegations that Sanitation supervisors intentionally held back street clearing efforts in retaliation to looming wage and staff reductions at the agency.
"As the mayor said — if that's the case, it will be investigated," said a Sanitation spokesperson.
Halloran pointed to borough roadways still unplowed a full four days after a storm he claimed was less severe and provided city officials more warning than major snow events in years past as proof of a systemwide slowdown by Sanitation.
"Look at the other major storms that hit the city and look at the response time," he said. "We had a much worse storm last year and we got back on our feet much more quickly."