NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Maybe because the two Street and Highways workers assigned to pick up Christmas trees throughout the City are spending their days parked on a dead end street nestled between the Bread Factory and I-95.
Last Wednesday evening, Talk of the Sound received a complaint from a resident that Truck #3 had been parked on Crescent Avenue between Walnut Street and Charles Street all day with two City workers sleeping in the truck.
The following day, at about 10:20 a.m., the same person called in again to report Truck #3 was back and the two City workers were again sleeping in the truck. This was confirmed by a regular Talk of the Sound contributor a few minutes later. Your intrepid reporter decided to go see this in person.
I arrived at the intersection of Charles Street and Crescent Avenue at 11:15 a.m. with my video camera rolling. I immediately observed a white City garbage truck parked on the east side of Crescent Avenue, up against a wall separating the street from the New England Thruway, between Charles Street and Walnut Street. The engine was not running. For over an hour the two City workers in the truck did not move. The driver's head was slumped with his chin resting on his chest. He appeared to be asleep. The second man's head was not visible from my location but he appeared to be leaning back, asleep.
At around 12:20 p.m., I called the Office of City Manager Chuck Strome. I was told by "Kathy" that Mr. Strome was unavailable. The woman was later identified as Kathy Reilly, the City Manager's secretary. I left a message for Mr. Strome with Ms. Reilly to the effect that there were two city workers asleep in a garbage truck on Crescent between Walnut Street and Charles Street. The call ended at 12:22 p.m.
Within two minutes the driver of the truck awoke with a start, started up the vehicle and drove away from the scene. All of this was captured on video tape.
At 12:40 p.m., I received a call from Kathy Reilly. She stated that she could not find Crescent on a City map, proposed that the truck I had seen was a Thruway Authority truck (they are yellow) and insisted it was not possible to go east from Grove Avenue on Charles Street. At one point she stated "you're not giving me good…" before trailing off. I believe she was saying "You're not giving me good directions".
I believe the purpose of her call was to establish a future claim that the City was not able to verify the information in my initial report because there had been a delay due to my supposed failure to accurately describe the location. This would then be followed by a later call to say that by the time the City got there to verify my information there was no one at the location. In fact, by the time she called Truck #3 was already gone. I suspect that Kathy Reilly directly or indirectly got word to the driver of Truck #3 to leave the area.
Twenty minutes later, at 1:00 p.m., I was sitting down to have lunch at AJ's Burgers when I observed Truck #3 through the front window, turning from North Avenue onto Hamilton Avenue and then Beaufort Place. I video taped the truck as it was turning onto Beaufort Place.
I believe Truck #3 was called to City Hall as a result of my report to the City Manager's office.
At 2:00 p.m., I received a call from DPW Commissioner Alex Tergis. He told me that he wished he had gotten my report earlier but that he has just come from Crescent Avenue and did not see any City vehicles at that location. He volunteered information that Truck #3 was assigned to pick up materials throughout the City such as Christmas trees and yard waste.
Yesterday, I sent an email to City spokesperson Kathy Gilwit.
I called into Chuck's office last week to make him aware of a report I had received (and confirmed) of two sanitation workers sleeping in a truck parked on Crescent Avenue between Walnut and Charles. The reaction from the City appears to have been to actively attempt to cover up the incident. I do not believe the two people I spoke with were honest with me.
For the same reason I made the call, I am now sending this email. I agreed to give Chuck a chance to comment on a story like this before it runs.
What would you all propose?
New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound
The following morning I received another phone call from DPW Commissioner Tergis.
I related to him my belief that two City workers spent Wednesday and a good part of Thursday to literally sleep on the job.. Further that Kathy Reilly took the information I provided to her and rather than use that information to protect the taxpayers of New Rochelle she instead used that information to warn the two City workers in Truck #3 of my report to the City Manager. Also, that the two City workers in Truck #3 were ordered to report to City Hall. I told him I believe that some sort of discussion took place involving the two City workers and one or more of their superiors in DPW and that the call I got from him (Alex) professing not to know too much about the incident was disingenuous.
In any case, if your Christmas tree has still not been picked up at least now you know why.