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Federal, Local Authorities Look Into Sanitation Workers' Alleged "Slowdown"

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As the city cleans up the trash and remnants of the snowfall, city district attorneys and federal authorities are looking into allegations that some Department of Sanitation workers held a "slowdown" in protest of budget cuts.

Queens Councilman Dan Halloran met with federal authorities Tuesday to say he was approached by some workers from the Transportation and Sanitation Departments, who were allegedly told to slow down their clean-up efforts by supervisors who were going to be demoted through budget cuts.

Some workers alleged that some plows deliberately missed streets and some trucks drove with their plows up, so that they removed far less snow.

"They said that their supervisors told them that they wouldn't be out on top of them, like they normally are, to take their time, make sure they take their breaks. If they miss a street on their sector, don't worry about it," said Halloran. "No one's going to write them up, nobody's going to be on top of them, that City Hall didn't care about us."

Halloran also found it was suspicious that 10 percent of workers called out sick on the first day of the storm and 15 percent called out sick on the second day.

Appearing on Tuesday's edition of "Inside City Hall," Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes says there are many questions that need to be answered.

"There’s been more than enough speculation about that. I think it requires a full inquiry to see two things. Was there a slowdown, and if there was, and you know from your legal training, you have to show foreseeability," said Hynes. "Could they know, should they have known that this slowdown caused injury or death? Then it becomes a very serious case."

In Queens -- where a woman died when ambulances couldn't get to her -- people who spoke with NY1 say they welcome the involvement of prosecutors.

"I'm a retired civil service worker, and I'm a union guy. But I think what they did was horrendous. I think it was disgraceful, people died. Someone should be held accountable," said one Queens resident.

"I understand they may have internal issues but they should not be taking it out on us," said another.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said his office is "reviewing information provided to it by City Councilman Dan Halloran, among others, with respect to last week's snowstorm and the City’s response thereto."

Brown said he has been in contact with the City's Department of Investigation, but that at this point, his office has "not reached any conclusions as to whether a formal investigation is warranted."

President Harry Nespoli of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association said in a statement Tuesday, "I am not aware of any work slowdown and I welcome any investigation."

The inquires come as Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile is pursuing a bill that will have city agencies deal with the aftermath of future storms on a borough by borough basis.

Gentile says that since each borough was affected differently, they should not be expected to recover at the same time.

Alternate-side parking rules are still suspended around the city through Saturday, January 8. Under current laws, the rules will take effect in all five boroughs at the same time.

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