NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As millions of drivers alternate days and run on fumes, CBS 2 has uncovered a disturbing loophole for a privileged few.
An exclusive investigation discovered city employees getting free gas — originally meant for first responders.
There were cars getting fueled up. A woman was spotted putting two gas cans into her trunk. There were long lines.
They seem like scenes from a typical gas station, right?
Well, not quite. They were taking place in the parking lot at the World’s Fair Marina on Friday.
It was a fueling station, not only for first responders and NYC vehicles, but also, it seems, for the personal vehicles of any city employee.
And the gas was free!
“It’s a great break for us,” FDNY administrator Maria Mercado said.
The gas is delivered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in huge tanker trucks. Drivers roll up and an attendant immediately fills up the tank without ever taking a dime.
“It’s really not about the free part. It’s about being able to get gas,” the FDNY’s Rob Figueroa said.
This fueling station, which has been in place for just a few days, comes at a time of high anxiety and frustration.
Hennessey: “You don’t have to pay for gas when others do and they’re paying sky-high prices. Do you think that’s fair?”
Mercado: “No, it’s not fair. It’s not fair.”
The city said this station is supposed to have limits for those using personal vehicles.
“There’s an approved list of city employees, contractors, engineers, nurses, doctors as well as police officers, firefighters that are able to get fuel at the city sites to make sure we can continue to carry out critical city operations,” NYC spokesman Marc Lavorgna said.
When asked how the list is being checked and or enforced, Lavorgna said, “I’ll check on that for you. I don’t know off the top of my head.”
The fact is, at the location CBS 2’s Hennessey visited there was no list. Drivers flashed city employee identification and were waved on through by police, employees like an FDNY administrator, Transit Authority employee Hector Avila and NYC special events coordinator Margaret Rosas.
“I’m only here because I can’t find it anywhere else,” Avila said.
“I am helping out the district with these assessments. I’m doing a lot of inputting lately to help them out so I have to be at work,” Rosas said.
Few would argue that firefighters like Tommy Dermody deserved the gas.
“I feel like I’m a city employee and I need to get to work to help the city out,” Dermody said.
But when even employees themselves chuckle when asked if this is fair, there’s something wrong.
“I don’t know,” NYC Parks engineer Magary Aime said with a laugh. “I don’t know.”
“If there is a breakdown in that system we’ll take a look at it, but we have a wide array of needs and a wide array of employees that are needed in all kinds of skill sets,” Lavorgna said.
Yeah, a wide array that appears to mean any employee looking to fill up.
Although the price may have been right, the wait, not so much. Employees CBS 2’s Hennessey saw were waiting two and a half to three hours for the free gas.
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