Continuing fallout from I-TEAM exposing loafing city workers

CLEVELAND -- The FOX 8 I-TEAM has learned of the fallout from an investigation last year exposing the City of Cleveland tree trimming crews for hitting the streets late, quitting early, and taking long breaks.  The I-TEAM video led to a city internal review.

Now, those crews have to follow new work rules. However, only one worker received discipline, which was a one-day suspension.

Missing from the city's internal findings was any discipline at the headquarters for the Urban Forestry Department. No supervisors have been punished in any way even though, again, the I-TEAM found tree crews starting late, ending early and often standing around or sitting around.

City Hall said it could only fully identify one employee and prove he was where he shouldn’t be.

The I-TEAM spotted Bryant Thomas roaming around a shopping center while on the clock. When we questioned Thomas, he said nothing to us.

But what about the overall slacking instead of working? We asked city spokesman Dan Williams why no supervisors were held accountable for those crews.

Williams said, "Some of that goes back to which crew was it? Who's the supervisor over that crew?"

Williams said the city is taking steps for bosses to keep closer watch, but he couldn’t offer specifics outlining how.

He added, "What we're doing is looking to make sure to tighten up those crews, tighten up the responsibility the supervisors have, so they are doing the right thing, making sure the crews get out on time and come back in when they’re supposed to."

We followed up by asking shouldn’t the supervisors have been doing that anyway?

Williams responded, “They’re addressing that.”

The internal review has also led to new times for work breaks and starting and ending shifts. The city believes this will, in part, help eliminate crews ending up taking longer than allowed for lunch.

All of this comes after Cleveland raised taxes promising better services.  Last year the I-TEAM revealed the tree crews are on a 23-year cycle for getting around to every neighborhood. And, they’ve been behind on cutting dead and dangerous trees with a backlog in the thousands.

Continuing coverage, here.

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