Ltr to Ed: Setting the record straight on employee use of a town vehicle

November 8, 2013
by Anthony Vaccaro, Commissioner, New Castle Department of Public Works

In a letter last week, Robin Murphy speculated that I wrongly allowed a DPW employee to take a town vehicle for personal use while intoxicated, and that he subsequently caused damage to the vehicle. As Commissioner of this Department I feel it is my responsibility to set the record straight.

On October 26, 2012 Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency to prepare for Hurricane Sandy.  On October 28, 2012 at 7:15 p.m. New Castle Supervisor Carpenter declared a State of Emergency for the Town of New Castle from 6:00 a.m. on October 29, 2012 to 6:00 a.m. on November 1, 2012.  All major roadways and most secondary roads in New Castle were closed due to fallen trees and wires.  At the same time all major suburban rail lines were shut down and all reported significant damage to their infrastructure. Downed trees, flooding, and debris were widespread.  Our transportation network remained crippled by Hurricane Sandy.

During this State of Emergency, the New Castle Department of Public Work crews along with Con Edison crews were working around the clock clearing power lines, trees and debris from local roadways. On October 29, 2012 Mr. Martinez, a DPW laborer, reported to work. When Mr. Martinez was dismissed from work on October 30th, he went to his vehicle parked at the DPW garage and found that the window to his vehicle had been shattered. 

Mr. Martinez reported the incident to me and I investigated the vehicle and surrounding environment and noted that the car was unsafe for him to operate. Because of the storm, public transportation was not in service and I could not remove any of my staff from roadway clearing to drive Mr. Martinez home.  As Mr. Martinez’s supervisor, I made an administrative decision to loan a staff car to my employee so he could go home and rest. Mr. Martinez was alert and focused when he left the DPW garage. 

Since the Governor had declared the State of Emergency, roads normally travelled to reach northerly destinations were not available.  So Mr. Martinez traveled south to reach the Sprain Brook Parkway.  As he was travelling on the Sprain Brook Parkway he accidentally side-swiped another vehicle. State police responded to the scene of the accident.  Nowhere in the police report is there any indication that Mr. Martinez was under the influence of any substances which affected his judgment.  Mr. Martinez called and reported the incident to me and the accident was reported to the Town’s insurance carrier.

Anthony Vaccaro
Commissioner of Public Works

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