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 Day 19

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Scapegoating Public Workers

Setting the Story Straight on "Snowdown"

by LAURA FLANDERS

New York is once again buried in snow, but this time more Brooklyn streets are plowed and trains are running, if delayed, to the outer boroughs. While everything slows down for the weather, it’s worth noting that the city’s managed to be prepared for the last couple of snowstorms.

It’s also worth noting, while we dig ourselves out, that the story that went rocketing around the media after the first major snowstorm of the year, of a union staging a work slowdown that kept the city paralyzed, has been debunked pretty thoroughly by now.

The New York Times reports that one man, Councilman Daniel J. Halloran, Republican of Queens, had started the story, saying that five workers, two from the Transportation department and three from Sanitation, had visited him to tell him about the "slowdown." The transportation workers, though, have denied his claims, and he cannot or will not name the sanitation workers.

A federal investigation was convened after the snowstorm not to look into whether budget cuts were dangerously over-broad and left people without any form of transportation for emergencies, but into the union’s purported actions.

But even Halloran has changed his story somewhat as the investigation proceeds. The freshman councilman, who has Tea Party support, now says that workers "were subtly informed there was no need to rush" while clearing snow, rather than explicitly told to slow it down.

It’s probably too late, though, since the New York Post and Fox News have already used the union workers as another excuse to blame all organized government workers for everything that’s wrong with the country. The damage has been done, and it’s probably too much to hope that the Post will enjoy splashing the truth around as much as all the misinformation.

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of GRITtv, which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. More…9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, public television and online at GRITv.org.