We took a deep dive into Cleveland's beleaguered neighbor to the east earlier this year, looking at systemic problems and how a possible merger with Cleveland might ameliorate those issues. While it was hard to pinpoint exactly what new financial stresses would emerge afterward, it was easy to pinpoint that they, put simply, would continue to happen in new and spectacular ways.
And now, thanks to NewsNet5, we can add another notch on East Cleveland and mayor Gary Norton's pathetic resume and a fresh example of that inevitable fiscal collapse.
Firefighters there tell the local TV station that while payroll deductions for health insurance are coming out of their paychecks, membership say they are receiving bills for thousands of dollars for medical treatments.
"I come to find out that the city is not paying the premium portions of our health care," Tom Buth, president of East Cleveland Firefighters IAFF Local 500, told the station.
What does Gary Norton have to say? Nothing, of course.
Multiple sources confirm that it is not just firefighters affected, but other city workers too.East Cleveland also owes more than $600,000 to an insolvent traffic camera company. It, of course, can't pay them either.
Newsnet5.com went to East Cleveland City Hall looking for answers. East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton refused to speak with us.
The Director of Human Rescources for the city did speak with us. "Any money earmarked toward health insurance goes to health insurance," said Annamaria Smith.
But, when we showed her a letter that we uncovered from the State's Auditors Office, she had no answer.
In the letter, addressed to the chairperson of the City of East Cleveland Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, it said that healthcare claims for the city have not been paid for a number of months.