City investigates sanitation snow removal

January 5, 2011 3:25:09 PM PST
The head of New York City's Department of Investigation for the first time talked about her probe into whether Sanitation Department workers staged a slowdown during the big holiday blizzard.

She tells Eyewitness News she'll have answers by the end of the month.

The blizzard lasted a day and the aftermath is clearly not blowing over anytime soon.

There are now four separate law enforcement investigations: New York City's Department of Investigation has a team of 20 working day and night.

The DOI is watching several videos as part of their probe.

The question is, did sanitation workers park their trucks and park themselves in a Dunkin Donuts for hours when they should have been plowing streets? Was there any deliberate effort to slow down snow removal efforts by raising plows or ignoring snow blanketed streets?

"We're looking at data, we're looking at equipment, at attendance issues, we're looking at weather patterns comparatively," said Rose Gill Hearn, the Department of Investigation Commissioner.

DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn says investigators have already interviewed dozens of people like the city sanitation and Department of Transportation employees assigned to snow removal.

They've already identified several workers in videos and people who've taken the pictures are being questioned to put their photos in context, and there are more interviews to come.

"We're going to interview supervisors in all five boroughs," Gill Hearn said.

Sanitation supervisors are at the heart of the probe into a possible snow slowdown.

"What they did was they said we're not going to be on top of you, we're not going to push you," said New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran.

Queens city councilman Daniel Halloran says he spoke with three rank and file sanitation workers and two DOT supervisors assigned to snow duty.

"The supervisors from DOT said their crews were never sent out in the field by sanitation," Halloran said.

Who did or didn't do what they should have will be the focus of a city council hearing set for Monday.

"The point of the oversight is to make sure this never happens again," said Christine Quinn, NYC Council Speaker said.

New York City's Department of Investigation has set up a "snow hotline." If city employees have information about any slowdown, including evidence of supervisors encouraging or suggesting that workers participate in a work slowdown, they are asked to call: 212-825-3338. All calls are confidential and city employees are protected by the whistleblower act.

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