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Halloran Will Not Divulge Sources on Snow Removal Slowdown

Councilman Does Not Plan to Make Public the Names of Sanitation Department Whistleblowers

Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Whitestone, said he would not reveal the names of city Department of Sanitation whistleblowers who have alleged an intentional city slowdown following last week's massive blizzard.

On Dec. 30, the councilman spoke with reporters via a phone teleconference during which he announced that three Sanitation workers and two Department of Transportation supervisors assigned to DSNY independently approached Halloran office with allegations of a "systemic" slowdown.

This week, he said would not divulge the names of the workers.

"My decision is one of principle," Halloran said in a statement. "The sources asked for confidence. I agreed and I am a man of my word."

Last week, Halloran said the two DOT supervisors who contacted 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.

In an appearance on "Good Day NY" yesterday, Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association head Harry Nespoli denied allegations of an intentional slowdown in snow removal across the five boroughs.

Halloran said the DOT employees who contacted him are now speaking with investigators. In his statement, he asked that city Department of Investigation staffers would also keep the sources' names confidential.

"Would anyone, especially in the media, ask questions about a reporter keeping a vulnerable source confidential?" the councilman said. "It's my hope that the investigation will keep their names in confidence while getting to the bottom of this debacle that crippled our city. The response to the storm was a disaster and our neighborhoods are suffering."

State Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, initiated several Freedom of Information requests last week to the mayor's office and the Sanitation Department.

By law, the parties have several weeks to respond to the information requests.

But Avella said he found allegations of a "systemic" slowdown "hard to believe." Instead, he focused his criticism on what he called the Bloomberg administration's "failure" to declare a snow emergency as the blizzard blanketed the city.

"I would put the slowdown on the bottom of the list of possible reasons for the delayed response," Avella said.

On. Jan. 10, the City Council will hold hearings to investigate the city's response to the snowstorm. 

That hearing is likely to be dominated by allegations that Sanitation supervisors intentionally held back street clearing 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 spokeswoman last week in response to the allegations.

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