The story rocketed around New York City when streets went uncleared after the Dec. 26 blizzard: Sanitation workers, angry about job reductions, had deliberately staged a work slowdown.
It resulted in wisecracks on “Saturday Night Live,” fiery denunciations of unions on cable news and four criminal investigations.
And it occurred because one man, Councilman Daniel J. Halloran, Republican of Queens, said five city workers had come to his office during the storm and told him they had been explicitly ordered to take part in a slowdown to embarrass Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
But the more that investigators look into Mr. Halloran’s story, the more mystifying it becomes.
Mr. Halloran said he had been visited by two supervisors in the Transportation Department and three workers in the Sanitation Department. But the two transportation supervisors did not back up his story in interviews with investigators, according to two people briefed on the inquiries. And Mr. Halloran has steadfastly refused to reveal the names of the sanitation workers.
Mr. Halloran expects to testify this week before a federal grand jury looking into the question of a slowdown, according to a person familiar with his intentions, and it is not clear whether prosecutors will try to compel him, under oath, to divulge the workers’ names.
Meanwhile, investigators had hoped that extensive publicity would bring out others with knowledge of the purported plot. That has not happened, according to the people briefed on the investigations, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigations are continuing. This leaves prosecutors with no proof that anything occurred.
“When you’re talking about establishing a negative, I don’t know how it’s going to get firmer,” one person briefed on the inquiries said.
Mr. Halloran declined to be interviewed for this article.
Of course, someone could still bring forward evidence. Investigators are examining videos of trucks driving with their plows up, although officials say the drivers must sometimes put the plows up to stay on their routes.
Yet in the days since Mr. Halloran first made his explosive accusations, he has revised his account.
In an article that appeared in The New York Post on Dec. 30, he said the workers had been told “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,” Mr. Halloran said in the article, “for the layoffs, the reductions in rank of the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank and file.”
More recently, the councilman has said the workers were not explicitly told to take part in a slowdown, but were subtly informed there was no need to rush while clearing the snow.
Mr. Halloran’s assertions helped prompt investigations by the Brooklyn and Queens district attorney’s offices, the city’s Department of Investigation and the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn. But expectations are shrinking that the efforts will produce indictments or official findings of a slowdown, according to the people briefed on the investigations.
Mr. Stites said investigators had asked the councilman not to reveal the nature of their conversations. He also said Mr. Halloran would not reveal the names of the sanitation workers who spoke to him because they had been seeking his advice as a lawyer at the time, and Mr. Halloran believed that their names were protected under attorney-client privilege.
“The council member sees that investigators take this issue as seriously as he does and is hopeful that any crimes committed will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Mr. Stites said.
Stephen Gillers, an expert in legal ethics at New York University, said the state law governing attorney-client privilege generally only shielded communications, not the names of the clients or the nature of the representation. But, he added, even protecting the communications could be hard for Mr. Halloran.
“If he was approached as a public official,” Mr. Gillers said, “with the power to call attention to official misconduct, there is no attorney-client privilege.”
Read the rest of the piece and you discover that Halloran is a loudmouth, constantly involved in controversy, and simply simply full of shit.
If investigators find no evidence of a slowdown, they need to investigate Halloran to find out if he made the whole conversation between himself and the sanitation workers up.
And if so, he should be charged with a crime and relieved of his duties as councilman.