Snow-worker probe after deaths
Published 01/01/2011 | 05:00
Officials alleged to have deliberately slowed down the clearance of snow in New York after this week's blizzard could face criminal prosecutions after residents died due to emergency service delays.
The New York department of investigation, the city's internal anti-corruption agency, is "investigating whether there was intentional misconduct in connection with the snow removal", a spokeswoman said.
Any evidence of misconduct could be used for internal discipline or handed to public prosecutors with a recommendation for criminal prosecutions, she added.
It is alleged some sanitation department supervisors encouraged their workers to botch the snow clearance as a protest over pay and budget cuts being implemented by Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York.
Dan Halloran, a city councilman, said he was approached by five whistle-blowers furious at the actions of colleagues.
The US attorney for New York may also launch an inquiry into whether this could have been a secondary cause of three deaths caused by ambulance delays, a source said. "These people had an obligation to the city and people of New York to do a job for which they were paid, and some appear not to have fulfilled it," he said. "It's going to get messy."
The US attorney's office declined to comment. Union leaders have rejected allegations of concerted protest.
Mr Bloomberg said yesterday that the snow-removal effort had been a "character-building" experience for him. "This year is not ending the way I would have preferred, but it's still been a good year," he said. "Nobody has a career that goes straight up."
The escalating recriminations came as storms and heavy snow reached a central section of the US stretching from New Mexico in the south to Minnesota in the north.
Severe ice closed a number of major roads, while blizzards in North Dakota caused a pile-up of 100 vehicles. Up to 18 inches of snow were expected to fall in some areas. (© Daily Telegraph, London)