Mount Vernon DPW workers protest while mayor, council continue to spar

MOUNT VERNON, New York (WABC) -- Angry DPW employees stormed into the Mount Vernon comptroller's office Friday morning as a protest outside City Hall spilled inside.

The workers say they are caught in the middle of political infighting and are upset that some have claimed recent equipment issues are a hoax.

In February, several plows and salting trucks were vandalized, rendering them unable to clear snow during a storm. Latex gloves were found jammed into the fuel tanks of 30 vehicles.

Earlier this month, an unoccupied garbage truck crashed into a house when it unexpectedly jumped into gear. The city is now renting trucks to collect garbage and recyclables after several of its vehicles failed inspection.

Mayor Richard Thomas has been locked in a bitter budget fight with the city council for nearly all of his three-year tenure. Thomas says his political rivals have worked to block his initiatives at every turn.

"Their objective is to fund the vision of Mount Vernon, and they said 'No,'" said Thomas. "For the past three years, they've said, 'No, no, no.'"

But Thomas himself has been accused of cronyism and was arrested last year on charges he misused campaign funds.

His lawyers have rejected a plea deal that would have forced him to resign from office.

Residents say they are also caught in the middle.

"It seems to be everybody's at a loggerhead. It really casts a bad light on the city," says David Hawkins, an attorney who lives in Mount Vernon. "Unfortunately the residents are being affected."

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