NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty gives his men a grade of A-plus for how they handled the blizzard clean-up job. But he may want to re-evaluate that after taking a look at some new video.
The footage obtained by CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer leaves little room for doubt. The plow on a sanitation truck could be seen in the up position, not removing the snow as it moved down East 24th Street in Midwood during the blizzard.
There were also images of a plow on 26th Street and Avenue N that couldn’t possibly clear the street because it was attached wrong, running parallel to the snow.
Now, Queens Councilman Dan Halloran said the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York has opened a criminal probe after sanitation and DOT workers came forward with evidence of a work slowdown.
“They were told that they wouldn’t be pressed if they missed routes. It would be okay, ‘don’t worry about skipping a street. Don’t work too hard,'” Halloran told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
WCBS 880 Reporter Marla Diamond talks with Councilman Halloran about the investigation.
The Councilman said workers were also told that they wouldn’t be written up or “tightly scrutinized.”
“We have some video of sanitation trucks not plowing streets despite being on plow routes. Some units were sitting at Dunkin Donuts for 7,8, 9, 10 hours,” Halloran said.
Additional footage showed a V-shaped plow on East 24th Street and Quentin Road in the Madison section of Brooklyn that appears to have been set at the wrong angle because while it moved some snow, it also left much of the white stuff on the road behind it.
All of the pictures raise new questions about what some sanitation workers were doing during the blizzard.
“If there were many trucks that did not have their plows down somebody gave them the order and we have to find out who that was,” Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz told Kramer.
It’s a good question and one that will certainly be asked by the bevy of district attorneys and federal prosecutors investigating the city’s response to the blizzard.
“Was this a concerted effort? Was it a city-wide effort? Was it a wildcat effort? Was it an individual effort? We have to find that out,” Markowitz said.
Meanwhile, there was a gaping difference of opinion between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his sanitation commissioner about the snow removal job. Doherty gave his men the highest of marks, but the mayor disagreed.
“I would give our grade as unacceptable. I’ve said that and we’re going to try to figure out why and make it better,” Bloomberg said.
So damaged is the mayor’s reputation from his response to the blizzard that some city officials said privately they hope that there’s another storm, in the hope that it can help restore his image.
While the city continues to clear snow and pick up the mountains of trash on the street alternate side of the street parking is suspended through Saturday.