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DPW Worker Challenges Anello Says former Mayor's Criticism is Slanderous

By Mark Dinnocenzio

I am a current employee of the City of Niagara Fall. I work in the streets department as a MW3. I run the zipper machine and the paving machine.

Back in 2006, during the administration of Mayor Vince Anello, the city of Niagara Falls purchased the Bagela Asphalt Recycler. Along with another employee, I was assigned to operate it. Lately Mr. Anello has broadcast on his WJJL radio show that I and other city employees set that machine up to fail. However, it was the administration, not the workers that set the thing up to fail.

Here are the facts: The Bagela machine cost the city $130,000. The truck needed to work with it cost another $170,000. The machine was supposed to take millings removed from streets about to be repaved and convert them into hot material to use to fill potholes. It didn't work. These millings were from streets paved years before. The material was a mix of deteriorated blacktop, salt from many winters, oil from cars, and debris sunk into the porous tar and stone mixture that is blacktop. The theory was that reheating this material was supposed to rejuvenate it into clean, durable material suitable to fill potholes. The plan was doomed from the start.

Furthermore, the administration did not know how to properly use the machine. The Bagela machine had to be elevated in order that, when material came out, it fell to the ground, so it could be scooped up and put into a truck. The administration, after getting the machine, ordered city employees to build a temporary, makeshift platform.

Repeatedly, we told our bosses this was unsafe. Nothing was done to correct it until I fell off of it on a concrete slab and was knocked unconscious on May 1, 2007. Of this event, Anello has said the city was cleared of wrongdoing, but the fact is the city received six violations from the New York State Division of Public Employee Safety & Health (PESH).

The machine itself produced an inconsistent, inferior product. Additionally, the Anello administration failed to provide a heated truck required to work in tandem with this machine. We put the material in a cold bed truck which brought temperatures down immediately. The Bagela is designed to run the whole day, with workers constantly filling it with heated millings keeping the product hot, not as we did, putting in hot product with cold. The machine is better suited, obviously, for a larger city with several trucks with heated beds.

But rather than admit their mistake in purchasing this equipment, our bosses instructed us to use a chemical called hydrolene to put on the millings before we put it in the machine.

I was instructed to use a quarter of a gallon. This did not work. Then I was told to use a half gallon. This did not work. Then I was told to use a whole gallon. By this time, the employees and I started feeling sick. I called the manufacturer to tell them what we were using their product for and the representative became furious, asking how we even got this material. He said we were not to use it in that way, to stop immediately, since hydrolene has a cancer causing agent in it.

I called PESH and requested an air test. A crew leader and I had to dress in full safety gear and were tested. After the results came in, we were required by PESH to use a full mask to filter the poisons we had been freely breathing in before. Finally, after the city bought the truck meant to work with the Bagela machine, the end product was garbage and largely unusable.

Personally, I am sick and tired of Mr. Anello saying we set this thing up to fail! I did the best I could with what I had and took significant risks to do it. That the Anello administration wasted $300,000 of taxpayers' money on a useless machine, and that, rather than admit this error, Mr. Anello would rather blame me and other good workers who took risks to put into practice what might be called Anello's Bagela folly, is an inherent injustice.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Mar 25, 2014