CLEVELAND-- Some members of Cleveland City Council quietly following the Indians on a computer, texting on the phone and responding to email while the full council is in session, the FOX 8 I-Team found.
Our discoveries at Cleveland City Hall were similar to what we also recently found with state senators during hearings in Columbus.
In Cleveland, during a council meeting on a recent Monday evening, the I-Team noticed Councilman Anthony Brancatelli had a computer on his desk keeping track of detailed play-by-play action happening in an Indians playoff game. Brancatelli repeatedly refreshed the site, and at times, he used his phone while keeping the sports website online.
We stopped him in the hallway before another meeting wearing an Indians tie. We wanted to know how he could be paying full attention to council business.
“We’re reading everything into our legislative record. We make sure everything is covered. It’s great to be able to do what they call multi-tasking," Brancatelli said.
Multi-tasking is also what we heard from some of the state senators. In Columbus, we saw one senator filling out birthday cards, another browsing on Facebook and others typing messages on phones during hearings.
Back in Cleveland, an I-Team camera spotted Councilman Kerry McCormack texting during a meeting. The conversation involved something about corporate money and a contribution for something.
When we asked McCormack about it a week later, he answered, “A lot of times we search things on our phones. We use our phones for all sorts of things. As you know we can do searches.”
“I don’t remember what I was texting about that night, but again, we use our phones all the time for all sorts of things.”
Days after that, a council spokesperson told us McCormack had found the text and it involved a constituent. We offered to come back and talk about it, but we were told the matter had been addressed.
Taxpayers we met aren’t convinced by the talk of “multi-tasking”. One woman said she hoped our investigation would lead lawmakers to change their ways and focus on what’s happening at their meetings.