Patterico's Pontifications


Snowplow Slowdown Update: More Verification and Evidence It was Targeted at Specific Neighborhoods

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:24 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

First, let’s start with some video of the great job they are doing, plowing the streets (if it doesn’t play here, go here).

Yes, clearly the problem they had was not enough workers.  /sarcasm

Anyway, the latest from the New York Post, which is doing heroic work, here is twofold.

First, we find out that there already is an investigation into the cause of the slow snow removal:

The city’s Department of Investigation admitted it began a probe earlier this week after hearing rumblings of a coordinated job action.

Which really adds a lot of credibility to the allegations, given that this constitutes collaboration.

The second revelation is that it was apparently targeted at the neighborhoods of the wealthy and powerful, on the theory that then they would scream to city hall and get the budget for the Sanitation Department increased.

There was a method to their madness.

The selfish Sanitation bosses who sabotaged the blizzard cleanup to fire a salvo at City Hall targeted politically connected and well-heeled neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn to get their twisted message across loud and clear, The Post has learned…

Sources told The Post several neighborhoods were on the workers’ hit list — including Borough Park and Dyker Heights in Brooklyn and Middle Village in Queens — because residents there have more money and their politicians carry big sticks.

As they say, read the whole thing.

So that gets at a question asked in one of the comments for the last post on this by “great unknown:”

on the potential criminal violation: exactly who would be put on trial? I agree with the concept, but the diffusion of responsibility [finger-pointing] seems to make the application problematic

Well, this revelation raises the possibility that we might be able to pinpoint exactly who was neglecting the relevant streets.  But even if we can’t, we might not have to.  First this would also constitute criminal conspiracy.  Now, New York State doesn’t appear to follow the ordinary rule that members of a conspiracy are jointly responsible for every act in furtherance of a conspiracy.  But conspiracy is an independent offense.  And if one person engages in criminal conduct, a second person can also be guilty of that exact same act if that person “solicits, requests,  commands,  importunes,  or  intentionally aids such person to engage in such conduct.”  And it is not clear under the statute whether one even has to identify that other person or not.  That could reach a large part of the union.

Meanwhile the casualty count is increasing.  This time a child isn’t dead, but left brain dead:

A 3-month-old Queens boy was left brain dead last night after snow-clogged routes prevented medics from reaching him quickly — and unplowed streets later forced the EMS workers to ditch their ambulance and sprint with the ailing baby to the hospital.

As little Addison Reynoso hovered at death’s door, a priest performed last rites, and his family considered pulling him off life support.

The baby’s heartbroken father fumed at the city’s lax clean-up response to last weekend’s monster blizzard.

“Clean the streets,” Luis Reynoso said, “because that’s why the ambulance came too late.”

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

42 Responses to “Snowplow Slowdown Update: More Verification and Evidence It was Targeted at Specific Neighborhoods”

  1. who would like to handle the wrongful death and intent-to-harm civil suits? the losses are plainly evident and the cause manifest. should it start with a cool billion?

    joej (0b3752)

  2. Actually suing them might be tough because of sovereign immunity. it depends on whether NY state has given people permission to sue it.

    But on the other hand, charging people with crimes seems like little trouble.

    Aaron Worthing (1a6294)

  3. I should point out that Crown Heights, where the newborn died, is not a particularly wealthy neighbourhood, and not one of those named as having been targeted. My own neighbourhood of Park Slope is also not named in this article, but is definitely of the kind that would be on such a hit list, and that would explain how long it took to plow here.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  4. why can’t you sue the union? seems they are responsible for this job action.

    newrouter (b55202)

  5. If evidence were ever needed to show that public employee unions act against the public interest, this case should be added to the list.

    Abolish them all.

    Insufficiently Sensitive (b6274d)

  6. Actually suing them might be tough because of sovereign immunity. it depends on whether NY state has given people permission to sue it.

    [Comment by Aaron Worthing — 12/31/2010 @ 11:48 am]

    Is the union, itself, a government organization? I would think you could go after the union without encountering sovereign immunity. But I’m going on gut feeling here and the guess the union is a corporate entity, separate and distinct from the the members, who are government employees.

    I’d be interested to know if the top echelon of union officials are actually government employees.

    Dusty (60623e)

  7. Whichever government employees (supervisors) who made these decision in furtherance of a union goal, sacrificed their sovereign immunity since they were not acting in furtherance of a governmental act, mission, or goal.
    Not only can they be charged criminally for whatever damage they caused, buy civilly also for their acts in furtherance of the union.

    And, if they are protected by judges and pols, those “protectors” should be dropped into NY Harbor from mid-span of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (swimming is a very important physical-fitness activity, and no-one likes to see an unfit public servant – especially Michelle).

    AD-RtR/OS! (ac847e)

  8. Lived long enough in NYC to know from professional experience all any plaintiff will ever get anyone to say is that union leaders said follow the rulebook. In years past when a plow got stuck, the operator probably did his damndest to get it free going backward and forward to keep plowing ahead. The city’s own rulebook probably says notify the supervisor and wait for instructions. So this time,after Bloomberg took an ax to 100 supervisors and failed to replace retirees, the Sanitation staff followed the rulebook to the letter. And the streets which would have been plowed in the past were instead snow banks.

    New York City does not have sovereign immunity. In fact New York state has a seperate court called Court of Claims who’s jurisdiction is solely claims against the state and city of New York.

    As far as “wealthy and powerful” that’s nonsense. Manhattan was cleared right down to Bloomberg’s beloved bike lanes by Monday night. Marine Park where I live and Rockaway where my parents live are chock full of teachers, police, sanitation and fire personnel. Both neighborhoods were disasters with snow-clogged streets well into last night. More likely Bloomberg’s beloved Manhattan was cleared to keep him relatively happy and clueless. SUspect the further you get from City Hall the more inclined SanMen were to follow the rulebook.

    Bugg (4e0dda)

  9. Bugg, that makes sense. Park Slope is a lot closer to Manhattan than are Marine Park and Rockaway, and sure enough we got plowed yesterday afternoon, while you were still snow-bound last night. For reference, late on Wednesday night I took a long walk (to prevent stir-craziness) along McDonald Ave, from Ave P to Ave I. The main roadway had been plowed and was passable; the cross-streets were being worked on. At the corner of Ave M I saw a plow moving around rather ineffectually, while a police car was parked there, doing nothing that I could see.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  10. Bloomberg is doing everything he can to deflect attention from the fact his cutbacks in this case were stupid and counterproductive.He’d rather blame some guys working a plow than look in the the mirror. It’s good to own a media company. If he wants to cut government he should hold the line Guiliani held when it came to welfare benefits and pointless goo goo social programs. And those are sensible things he has refused to do. Instead he has played footsie with Sharpton and the various poverty pimps. And his habit of bringing in overpriced consultants like Steven Goldsmith and the CityTime thieves have been collasal failures. Once again when it comes to the core of his job, Bloomberg is an incompetent nanny state jerk who would rather tout the wonderous diversity of the Ground Zero mosque and badmouth the Tea Party.And in this case, Bloomberg overruled his own Fire Commissioner when said Commissioner ask a snow emergency be declared. If 2 feet of snow is not a “snow emergency” the phrase is meaningless.

    Even in the clip, I have no idea why the plow didn’t go through, but the plow guy probably can give a reason why the plow was up. The person taking the video is no more an expert on safe operation of a plow than anyone else, and certainly not moreso than the plow driver. Though he is uderstandably pissed his street is still a mess.

    As to the guy they caught napping on the plow, someone will hang. And he has put a target on himself.

    Bugg (4e0dda)

  11. The last time we had a threat — a mere threat — of snow, Houston city employees were out salting the overpasses, and they were visibly prepared to do serious snowplowing. This, even though serious snowfall in Houston is a once-in-several decades event.

    I suspect that if Hurricane Ike had hit New York City instead of Houston in September 2008, NYC would still be without important city services.

    Beldar (990638)

  12. I wonder if this action by the union will come to be seen as the U.S. (or at least NYC) equivalent of the coal miners’ strike in Britain during the Thatcher Era. A public that had long been tolerant, if not supportive, of labor unions finally got fed up and cleared the way for the government to break the stranglehold that labor had on society. Though organized labor is said to be on the decline in the U.S., I would guess most of us would agree that public employee unions wield political power way out of proportion to their membership numbers. Maybe in an “only Nixon could go to China” way it will take NYC to be the first to say “Enough!” to the government worker’s unions.

    JVW (4463d3)

  13. Beldar, could the difference in City Hall cultures be explained by the fact that the denizens of Houston’s City Hall know that their constituents are armed, and their counterparts in NYC know that their constituents aren’t?

    AD-RtR/OS! (ac847e)

  14. Bugg, the man in the video has probably had that street plowed many times, and recognizes the fact that this is some kind of protest activity and not the normal plowing operation.

    Whether bloomberg’s actions were counterproductive is one point. He’s a jackass and you’re probably right.

    but this type of public sector union protest kills people. It predictably kills people. It’s crossing the line, and it’s time to ban unions in the public sector entirely. Cops, teachers, fire fighters, sanitation, military, etc. We need these activities to be performed as well as possible. If we didn’t need them that badly, the government shouldn’t be prioritizing them anyway. We need an end to these unions, because of the very nature by which they bargain via poor performance threats.

    They should do their best, and if that isn’t enough to get the job done, explain that to the press and let the voters get the government they deserve, for better or worse (my guess is that New Yorkers actually have that already).

    Me, I’ll just say ‘God Bless Texas’. If this happened here, we’d just plow our own damn streets and kick the dirtbags out of office.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  15. My old man used to work for the City of Houston, and I recall him saying they gave him a lot of initiative power at a young age. Houston is not my idea of paradise, and some of the mayors there haven’t been so great (Bill White is excellent), but I agree with Beldar that Houston’s city government puts New York’s to shame, even though I’m sure their budget is a small fraction of New York City’s.

    Houston’s where you’ll find the good democrats. A dying breed.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  16. Also, my dad has been a government employee for decades, mostly in Texas, and the idea of being in a union would be completely alien to him. He’s easily the hardest worker I’ve ever met. When he’s had issues with his job situation, he put his resume together and fixed the problem by relocating and working hard. He doesn’t need a union, and I feel sorry for cities whose workers do need unions. That seems like an enormous amount of nonsense and drama added on top of important work, all to take care of people who should just quit if they feel oppressed by their job.

    What’s the argument for a unionized government? Less competitive workers, more drama, dead kids, much higher benefit expenses? I don’t get it.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  17. Government spending at all levels is up to 43% of GDP (thanks to Obambi and his pals) and people in the biggest city in America are dying because government can’t keep the streets cleared of snow.

    Well, that’s socialism for you.

    Dave Surls (5f2251)

  18. Suing the union? Who would wind up paying that judgment? Solving this problem is too much of a hassle for politians, and the union members know it. In NYC, it is amazing that no citizen has gone ‘Charles Bronson’ on these lowlifes yet.

    This is just one of the latest examples where public employees want still more. Here in Cali, the UC employees making more than $245,000/year(no, that is not a typo) are demanding improvements to their retirement packages.

    TimesDisliker (5a8738)

  19. 43% of GDP…
    A working Rule of Thumb was that regulation imposed another 15%+ in costs to the economy,
    so now we have the Government portion of the economy approaching (if not exceeding) 60%!

    Ain’t Capitalism and the Free Market grand?

    AD-RtR/OS! (ac847e)

  20. We have had talk about unions in the District Attorney’s office. I have a problem with the idea because I could never take part in a work action. What we do protects the public. I can’t see participating in a strike that could jeopardize public safety.

    Patterico (1c6e81)

  21. IIRC the Executive Order signed by Moonbeam back in the day authorizing collective bargaining by public employees specifically lined out the authority for public-safety employees to partake of “job actions” (strikes), but did not speak of “working to the rule” (slowdowns).

    AD-RtR/OS! (ac847e)

  22. Patterico’s comment really boils it down. The idea of collective bargaining is that you all stop, and this creates an urgent need to give the employees goodies. And whether you work on sanitation or teaching children or fighting crime, it’s seriously immoral to extort wealth by threatening those services.

    There probably are government functions that are not necessary, and therefore a union striking wouldn’t hurt us this way, but that just leads to the question as to why the government is doing that stuff at all. If Patterico’s work environment was bad, it’s obvious that relocating is preferable to hurting society. I think that calculation is exactly the same for snow plowing.

    It really ticks me off.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  23. I thought I’d seen everything this year, but this event has really taken my breath away. I think thoseordered this plan, deserve the penalty, that Tuckerthought Vick deserved; depraved indifference is the most kind way of putting it, extortion and manslaughter seems another likely charge

    narciso (6075d0)

  24. As someone who worked both sides of a criminal courtroom in New York, you are not going to get any kind of manslaughter indictment, nor any criminal indictment at all.And criminalizing a union official for telling his men to follow the city agency’s own rulebook is not an act in furtherance of a crime. And you would also face issues of direct causation; would the babies and elderly have died anyway? Even if the worst is true, no one in any union was dumb enough to say outright do not do your job to his members. There may be a grand jury empaneled and a report issued which will get one day’s coverage and then immediately collect dust.

    I agree that public unions can be an evil in the country. But having represented some police officers I can also say that some form of collective representation is required in certain situations. Parenthetically suspect what ever the pension crisis shows, the GOP will do itself more harm than good by being reflexibly anti-union.

    But the far greater evil here is government pretending it can solve every problem, great or small. We are again reminded here that it often cannot even accomplish the most basic tasks of baseline public safety. And that is the issue here; once again a nanny state ninny like Bloomberg is shown when it matters to be incompetent, lacking in common sense and incapable of real leadership.

    Bugg (4e0dda)

  25. If evidence were ever needed to show that public employee unions act against the public interest, this case should be added to the list.

    As soon as pay negotiations begin, the union, and each of its members who are looking for better compensation, are acting adverse to interests of the public entity. There’s simply no way around that, unless we move to an all-volunteer public workforce.

    The problem’s root doesn’t lie with the adverse relationship. It’s a two-fold problem. It starts with the unbalanced power relationship in which the public unions bring together many individuals to form a cohesive and focused interest group while the government employer has no similarly motivated interest group behind it. It ends up as a “committed ideologue vs. apathetic bystander” negotiation. These negotiations usually end badly for the bystanders.

    If that’s not enough, the second leg of the problem’s root (roots have legs?) is found in the bargaining process itself. The committed, focused, goal-oriented Employee Class sits down at the table facing government leaders who have more to gain from making the union happy than from driving a good bargain for the taxpayers. Yeah, if you’re an elected official, taxpayers are important, sure, but a VOTER following an organized agenda – now, that’s someone special!

    (Problem is, who else can we empower to determine public employee compensation? We can hire experts and boards and accountants, or draw straws or link hourly pay rates to body odor, but we’re still going to need the elected power to ratify some number. The problem is attackable only via the employee end of things.)

    bobby b (4baf73)

  26. I suspect that if Hurricane Ike had hit New York City instead of Houston in September 2008, NYC would still be without important city services.

    My NY story:

    Back in the mid-80s, I was visiting friends in CT, flew in through LaGuardia (IIRC), and had plans to fly out through JFK about 3 weeks later. Now, I went to visit NYC and, while there, check out my route/plans for home. Discovered there was something called (then) the “JFK Express”, and found out you could walk to it from Penn Station, where the train from CT stopped. So I planned to get there from Penn Station. So time comes, I’m ready to head for JFK. I follow the clear signs in Penn Stn., “This Way To The JFK Express”… I follow, suddenly, a “dead end” — a subway access that clearly isn’t the JFK-X. I ask a ticketperson. “I don’t know”. I figure I must’ve miss a “thataway!” pointer. Go back, find one of the “This Way!” signs… follow, slower, more carefully looking for the next one… no luck. Same dead end. Ask around. Ask around. “I dunno”. FINALLY find some guy, “Yeah, those are to a connecting tunnel that was removed, oh, seven, eight years ago…”

    In seven, eight years, NO ONE HAS BOTHERED to either take the signs down, or order the signs to be taken down.

    THAT is NYC in a nutshell. “It’s not my yob, man!”

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (c9dcd8)

  27. What would Reagan do?

    Kevin M (298030)

  28. Irony:

    On Wednesday, John J. Doherty, like countless other New Yorkers, was stuck in the snow, and had to hire a couple of enterprising shovelers to remove his Chevy Tahoe from a drift in Brooklyn. It would have been an unremarkable moment, were Doherty not the city’s sanitation commissioner, the man responsible for unburying the rest of us. “It was,” he told The Times’s Sam Dolnick, “very embarrassing.” Well, perhaps he can take comfort in the fact that he’s not the only one red in the face on this New Year’s weekend.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  29. Have the unions and Bloomberg even tried to contact the families of those dead children yet?

    Simon (812678)

  30. Even if the worst is true, no one in any union was dumb enough to say outright do not do your job to his members.
    Comment by Bugg

    I don’t know about that, but it appears there were some who felt they were told to outright not do their job, felt guilty about it, and turned informant.

    29.Have the unions and Bloomberg even tried to contact the families of those dead children yet?
    Comment by Simon

    In my (limited) experience, legal counsel would be agin’ it.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  31. “It’s not my yob, man!”
    Comment by IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    Is this what you had in mind?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  32. Speculating on their motives in neglecting certain areas because they were wealthy and that their voices would carry farther maybe accurate but they may have tried for a twofer. This administration has been unrelenting in the demonization of the rich and mobilizing their minions to harrass them at their homes. This is the kind of behavior that spreads gated communities and white flight.Police,firefighters,teachers,social service workers,sanitation workers can not tax each other to pay for servicing each other.The private sector pays all their freight while govt. workers taxes are only recycled

    dunce (b89258)

  33. So all the poor areas were snowplowed just fine? Or are there a bunch of rich whiny people? Is there actual data on this, or just speculation? “I heard such and such.”

    Chris Hooten (203dd2)

  34. Mendoucheous sophists rarely change.

    JD (306f5d)

  35. It’s all a bunch of hearsay bs at this point. There is no proof of anything. On that note, I agree with what you have to say, JD, although I am referring to you guys.

    Chris Hooten (203dd2)

  36. Do you try to be mendoucheous, or does it come naturally?

    JD (07faa1)

  37. Chris

    Actually, no it is not all hearsay at this point. At least not more than any other news story. But it isn’t quite proof beyond a reasonable doubt… which is why we should convene a grand jury, asap.

    Aaron Worthing (1a6294)

  38. I wonder why Chris says it’s BS. People are dead, and this seems to be related, and he just dismisses it with a wave of his hand as BS.

    As usual, the assumptions he’s making favor democrats. There’s no need to be partisan when lives are at stake, and I agree there’s more than enough direct testimony to justify a more official investigation or a grand jury. Does NY require an indictment or an information?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  39. If a soldier commits treason they risk capital punishment. Would the principle hold that if a civil service worker refuses to serve their job may then risk their citizenship?

    Charles (3067eb)

  40. The Founders defined Treason in the Constitution, precisely because they’d seen it used to criminalize the opposition in Britain. You’d have to be able to argue that the job action gave “aid and comfort to the enemy” to be able to start.

    And forfeiture of citizenship is an extremely rare punishment, historically. I’m not even sure it’s possible anymore, for someone who isn’t naturalized.

    LarryD (f22286)

  41. yeah, it can’t be called treason, even if it is treacherous and foul on all kinds of levels.

    Not unless they did it at the behest of al Qaeda or something like that, which ain’t fraking likely.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  42. 1. It can be called treason; they just can’t be charged with it. I believe there’s a Supreme Court decision affirming that it’s not libelous to call someone a traitor even if they haven’t committed an overt act that both helps an enemy of the USA and is done for that purpose, and was witnessed by two people.

    2. US citizenship can’t be forfeited involuntarily for any reason. Not even for naturalised citizens; once they’re in they’re in. The only loopholes are 1) if a flaw can be found in the original naturalisation then it can be found to have always been void and the person was never a citizen; 2) if the person acts in a way that gives the impression that he has voluntarily renounced his citizenship, the State Department can assume that he has done so, and it’s up to him to prove them wrong.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

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