Ernestina Report Analysis, Part III: Full Disclosure Fail [OPINION]
As more and more emails paint a much different picture of the removal of the Ernestina yellow pine lumber from the City's water treatment plant at Quittacas, Euzebio "Zeb" Arruda appears to have played a much bigger role than the City Investigative Report indicated.
For example, it was Arruda who came up with the idea to have the beams moved out of storage and out to the woods, away from security cameras. According to Ron Labelle, Arruda told him the Ernestina people informed him that they no longer wanted the lumber, which was obviously not true.
Arruda said he didn't know how the DPI came to believe the Ernestina Commission was no longer interested in the beams and said, "it was just common knowledge in the department" in Vezina's witness statement taken from him. Even though Arruda was kept apprised of Ernestina/DCR rep's visits to the yard to examine that very same lumber, he still made plans to "get rid of the yellow pine" even three days after a high profile visit to the Quittacas yard was made by DCR/Ernestina reps.
It was Zeb Arruda who granted permission for Shawn Davis of East Freetown to take the lumber in the fall of 2016.
Within a year of being appointed as Commissioner of DPI, Arruda abruptly resigned and went to Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School. In an article by the Standard-Times in July of 2017, Arruda said that his passion was to teach. He didn't get a teaching job, though. According to the article, he became the school's plant engineer and facilities director and doesn't "directly teach."
Aside from that, there is a real problem here.
Mayor Jon Mitchell hand-picked Human Resources Director Sandra Vezina to be the City's lead investigator, as he continues to insist that he doesn't have any reason to see any crime in this event. In fact, the report seems to bolster his theory. He could be right, I suppose.
It is unimaginable, though, that the City wouldn't fully disclose that Vezina also happens to be a close co-worker of Zeb Arruda's sister. According to 2017 payroll records, Sarah Arruda-Fidelix is the City's Assistant Human Resources Director and works directly beneath Vezina on a daily basis.
Now to be clear, I'm sure Mrs. Fidelix is a terrific asset to the City and this is in no way an implication of wrongdoing on her part, of course. I was slightly reluctant to bring it up. It appears she is a wonderful person in the small look that I gave this to ensure her correct identity.
However, there is no way to avoid pointing this out. It seems extremely inappropriate that the mayor would carefully choose a lead investigator who is a close co-worker of a sibling of a major subject of the probe and at least not inform the taxpayers of it. Unacceptable, actually.
For me, it helps to understand how certain damning emails didn't find their way into the report at all. It helps to understand the understanding and forgiving nature of Vezina's findings, despite the clear evidence to the contrary in terms of what Arruda knew about the lumber. The email records don't lie.
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.