CLEVELAND (WJW) – A FOX 8 I-Team investigation has uncovered Cleveland City Hall spending big money on new wheels and more for SUVs used by the mayor’s security detail.
We asked why, and while it seems like a simple question, we had to do a lot of digging to get answers.
The I-Team took pictures of SUVs parked at city hall in the space used by the security detail for the mayor. We took note of the paint and the wheels.
City records show three SUVs used by the detail for Mayor Justin Bibb all got, “Four new polished aluminum wheels.”
One SUV also got a new paint job.
Yet, the records show the vehicles are from 2020 and 2021.
Total cost for the improvements adds up to almost $20,000. That also include top-notch floor mats.
We showed the records to neighborhood activist Fay Harris.
“I say that’s a bit excessive. To me, it’s a waste of money,” she said.
Harris spoke of what she considers better uses for that money.
“Parks and rec for the children for the summer. It could be for scholarships for the kids. It could be meals for the homeless,” she said.
City Councilman Brian Kazy reacted with, “You don’t have to look good rolling around the city of Cleveland. You’ve just got to roll around the city of Cleveland.”
Kazy points out the detail for former Mayor Frank Jackson drove him around in a car and that EMS crews drive old ambulances, even breaking down at times while carrying patients.
Kazy added, “You’re spending $20,000 on vehicles less than two years old on vanity for yourself.”
So, what does the mayor have to say about this?
We looked back and, in at least six emails, we told his staff that we wanted to talk to him about the vehicles. It never happened.
When we went into city hall, we were stopped and told we needed an appointment to get into a public building.
In one email, a spokesperson wrote, “One of Mayor Bibb’s requests was for vehicles that would allow him to travel with his team of advisors. Traveling with his team of advisors allows him to receive in person briefings and communications directly with members of his cabinet as he works to be present in the city that elected him. To accommodate the mayor’s request, the department transferred three Chevy Tahoes to the mayor’s office, receiving in exchange the former mayor’s Ford sedans. Upgrades were made to Tahoes for the mayor’s safety and privacy.”
Still, that’s a tough sell on the street.
Fay Harris added, “I don’t think its necessary to put all that into three SUVs.”
No matter how you see this, at the heart of it is simply the cost of what’s been done to those vehicles.
Yet, it took the I-Team five records requests and two dozen emails to get answers from city hall.
And, even then, we did not get all of our questions answered.