Today’s news:

Halloran aide questions story on councilman’s slowdown claim

I am writing in response to your Jan. 13-19 story entitled “Officials wary of Halloran claims on snow cleanup.”

Your story implies that the community disagrees with City Councilman Dan Halloran’s (R-Whitestone) announcement that a few city Sanitation Department workers admitted to him that a “slowdown” took place in the days after the Dec. 26 blizzard. As the story mentioned, 239 constituents reached out to Halloran’s office regarding the slowdown. Over 90 percent of the feedback was positive.

On just a couple hours’ notice, I sent your newspaper a list of these constituents who agreed to speak with you, of which only one was quoted in the story. Your strong implication that members of the community disagreed with Halloran is false, as your story does not quote any non-elected official from the community on the record.

You say that I “dialed down the rhetoric” when contacted by your reporter. That is not the case. I simply repeated to your newspaper what Halloran has been saying for months: A few workers, who asked to remain anonymous to protect themselves, informed the councilman that there was indeed a slowdown in the wake of the blizzard. From all Halloran knows and has said, it was only a handful of Sanitation supervisors in northeast Queens angry at the mayor for their upcoming demotions who took part. Anything beyond that is a creative liberty taken by the media and not words out of Halloran’s mouth.

Your only Sanitation source also chose to remain anonymous yet you imply this worker is somehow more legitimate than the five the councilman spoke with. Even the elected officials you quote hedged. State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) admitted, “There may have been one or two workers who didn’t do their job.” Community Board 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty said of the slowdown, “I’m not saying it didn’t happen.” Federal investigators clearly take this matter as seriously as Halloran does: They wasted no time launching an investigation into potential crimes.

Additionally, several Democratic operatives, unnamed in the story, took this chance to call the councilman a liar. Anyone with the nerve to make this false claim should put their name on those words. And the Bayside Times should not print such an accusation if the name-caller does not have the guts to stand by their statement.

Steven Stites

Communications Director

Office of Councilman Halloran

Whitestone

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