So, we went looking for bosses. Who’s supposed to be making sure the workers are doing their jobs?
We’ve found this problem before, and now we’ve uncovered more of it.
For instance, we caught Parks and Rec crews parked for long periods of time on a dead end street off East 152nd.
City records show they get 30 minutes for lunch, but in one week, we saw them sitting at the dead end for 44 minutes at a time, 53 minutes, 47 minutes and an hour and two minutes.
A taxpayer alerted us about it.
“These guys, what first caught my attention, I would see them sitting down there not doing anything,” he said. ” I would say, I work every day. I’m a taxpayer, and these guys sitting around and do nothing.”
The I-Team also saw a city tree crew sitting in a truck for 90 minutes before getting busy.
We watched another parks crew stop for lunch. Then, right after lunch, we watched the crew drive to a park and sit for 19 minutes, work for two minutes, then drive around for 22 minutes.
The I-Team wondered: where are the bosses? Do they allow this? Are they even aware of it?
Councilman Mike Polensek also found himself asking the same thing. Some of the sitting around we saw happened in the councilman’s ward.
“Where are the supervisors in our neighborhoods that are supposed to be watching the crews? Where’s the accountability?” Polensek said.
He pointed out that council gets endless complaints about what city crews could clean up or fix up.
“I’m not asking anyone to… give up their lunch or a break. I wouldn’t do that, but when you spend that amount of time as we repeatedly have seen, people just ducking and hiding, again, who’s watching them?” he said.
We’ve exposed pothole crews killing time in 2015 and 2016, tree-trimmers in 2018 and pothole crews again in 2019.
Back to those workers we saw spending so much time on the dead-end street, you can’t even see back there from east 152nd.
We went to where those workers are based. A man at the door acknowledged he’s one of the supervisors, but he wouldn’t answer questions.
“Sir, I’m going to have to refer you to management,” he said.
When we reminded him that he is management, he said “No, I’m just a supervisor at this station.”
We requested to talk to the mayor, his top manager or the head of public works.
City hall didn’t make anyone available to face the I-Team.
No question, most city employees put in an honest, hard day’s work. But why do we keep finding abuses of your tax dollars?
Days ago, Mayor Frank Jackson addressed city managers, and he made it sound as if every employee is working really hard.
“I want to thank all the employees of the city of Cleveland. I know I mentioned during the State of the City. how our public employees are underrated,” Jackson said.
In the meantime, we met Ed Robinson with the crew that went to lunch, then sat for a while and worked for two minutes.
“Well, we do our required assignments,” he said. “Killing time, like if you rush and you do all your jobs, then you got all the rest of that day with nothing to do.”
So, we asked if bosses give a crew anything else to do after finishing early.
“Not immediately,” he said.
Folks on West 174th complained to the I-Team after watching a tree crew and claiming the crew took extra-long breaks.
We spoke to the crew leader, and again, the talk turned to management.
The crew leader said the workers waited in the truck for 90 minutes while waiting for other equipment.
“This guy was busy on the east side. Had to wait for him to get here on the west side,” he said.
We followed up by asking, ‘Why not coordinate it, so you’d get a truck?’
He responded, “I don’t do that.”
As for our request to talk to someone from city hall, a city spokesperson first asked some questions about our inquiry, but since then, we’ve received nothing but silence.