City: We Did an Investigation into Wood in 2016 [OPINION]
I'm hoping it's my stupidity, or that the responses are possibly just too guarded to get out the information that makes sense to me. The City of New Bedford is stating that it already did a complete internal investigation when it was discovered that the wood had been given away in 2016.
Public Information Officer Jonathan Carvalho stated that it was determined that a City DPI employee made an honest mistake and gave the Ernestina-Morrissey's wood away.
What confuses me is that last week, Carvalho told me "we don't know" when asked who gave the wood away. How can investigators conclude that there was an innocent and honest mistake by a person from the DPI if they can't identify said person, and don't know who it was?
When I asked him if he knew where the wood went, his answer was "we don't know." So now, if I understand this right, if the person was identified (or were they?), was information extracted from this person that included the last known location or destination of the massive pile of valuable lumber? If not, why wouldn't that information be demanded?
Would they not also want to know when this happened? A complete report somehow didn't include a request for the person to divulge the date or even approximate date to the event.
A growing issue has been raised by several observers: why didn't the City announce an offer to find a way to make it up to the Ernestina folks for the mistake the City made, that damaged the non-profit's ability to progress in the restoration project?
Mr. Carvalho may have provided some clarity about the surplus property sale issue. In 2017, he stated to WBSM's newsroom that the City tried to sell the timber but it was unsuccessful. His latest explanation is a somewhat plausible discrepancy as a second-hand messenger. It is now explained that the City contacted several lumber yards to see if they were interested in the wood, but if so, they would have to haul it away.
Friday afternoon, City Councilor-at-Large Brian Gomes said he will demand a full investigation. The mayor's office sent an email afterward that said it has already been done. The City Council may demand to look at the completed internal report from 2016.
At this point, without being an authority to look at everything I need to, I cannot tell who is giving the mayor's office the information, if they are taking people working at Quittacas at their word, or if they are looking into and confirming all the statements they have apparently taken.
Have some confidence here. Mayor Mitchell was once an outstanding prosecutor, so I know he knows what to accept as fact and what not to without verifying.
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @RadioKenPittman. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.