George Will joined a chorus of conservatives Sunday blaming unions for New York City’s lackluster performance in the wake of a recent snow storm.
“In New York City, the issue is tangled up with the question — and it’s an open question — whether the public employees union, to make a job action point, sabotaged street collection,” Will told ABC’s Jake Tapper.
“I believe — and this is entirely tangled up with the state bankruptcy — that the issue of public employees in their dominance of blue states, is going to be the biggest issue in this country for the next several years,” he added.
“You know they’re the scapegoat, George,” Democratic strategist Donna Brazile countered. “When you start cutting state budgets and city budgets and you start cutting snow plows and you start cutting the amount of salt you have stored, that has a real impact on people’s lives.”
It was Republican New York City Councilman David Halloran who first suggested unions were behind the unplowed streets.
“They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important,” Halloran told The New York Post.
He cited three anonymous city workers to make his point.
They “didn’t want to be identified because they were afraid of retaliation,” he said. “They were told [by supervisors] to take off routes [and] not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file.”
“In the last two years, the agency’s workforce has been slashed by 400 trash haulers and supervisors — down from 6,300 — because of the city’s budget crisis. And, effective tomorrow, 100 department supervisors are to be demoted and their salaries slashed as an added cost-saving move,” the Post noted.
Jed Lewison at Daily Kos doubted Halloran’s story.
“[G]iven that two of the five alleged ‘informants’ don’t even work for the Sanitation Department, from whom exactly do they fear reprisal?” Lewison wondered.
“Halloran’s claim seems just a bit too convenient, especially given that it started with a [Rupert] Murdoch publication. But even if it’s totally false, it’s obviously difficult to disprove,” he wrote.
“Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg is saying the claim should be investigated, and it’s easy to see why he’d want the spotlight shifted from his own behind, but if that investigation shows that Halloran was full of crap, then it’s Halloran who should be investigated — for lying to the public.”
This video is from ABC’s This Week, broadcast Jan. 2, 2010.