Yesterday morning, I shared The Metrowest Daily News story on Southborough’s Department of Public Works plowing in a state vehicle.
Since then, more information has become public on what I’m calling Plowgate. (How can you not?)
There have been allegations that DPW’s chief Karen Galligan actually drove one of the trucks involved. And the Town Administrator and Southborough Police Department have released a statement, report and the videos of the incident.
Below is one of the surveillance videos showing the intentional plowing in of the state vehicle parked in the municipal lot.
In yesterday’s statement from Town Administrator Mark Purple, it appears that the DPW initially rationalized their actions as justified based on the vehicle being left in the middle of the lot:
During the plowing of the lot, some Public Works employees plowed in the MassDOT vehicle, rather than plow around it, as it was an obstruction to their snow removal activities that afternoon.
That sentiment appears to be echoed in the police report and incident log. The police report explains
During snow storms we try to park our vehicles on the perimeter of the parking lot, which allows the DPW to plow the parking lot with minimal interference.
The initial police response to the incident was to instruct the driver to park elsewhere in future storms. The incident was only escalated after the driver pointed out damage and asked to file an accident report. At that point the officer told him to file a formal complaint with the DPW.
Purple’s statement says that the investigation identified employees who confessed and apologized:
The employees admitted their involvement and apologized for their actions, were contrite, and ashamed of their behavior.
While Purple said the unnamed employees were disciplined, he also defended them as “good employees who made bad decisions”.
Adding to the drama, MWDN reports that DPW Director Karen Galligan is alleged to be one of the plow drivers involved:
Multiple sources have confirmed to the MetroWest Daily News that DPW Director Karen Galligan drove one of the trucks involved in the incident. The town, citing personnel privacy laws, has declined to identify the DPW employees.
MWDN also points out that the police report doesn’t mention that police officers witnessed the incident without interfering as it took place:
[Lt. Sean] James’report does not mention multiple police officers appeared to have witnessed the plowing. James told the Daily News Wednesday he was not asked to determine whether there were any witnesses, only told to review the tape.
The town reached out to MassDOT to apologize. Damage claim will be processed by the town’s insurance company.
You can read the full statement from Mark Purple here.
For the full MWDN story, click here.
[Sorry, it took me so long to post this. I’ve been having tech struggles this afternoon!]
Updated (3/1/14 10:26 am): I deeply apologize to the MassDOT employee for initially posting police reports including his name and address. I should have respected his privacy. Now, I ask those of you who read the unredacted reports before I took them down to also respect his privacy.