Mayor Mitchell Not Picking the Right Fights [OPINION]
I don't think New Bedford Mayor Jon F. Mitchell has many serious issues as a politician, but if there is one, he doesn't seem to trust the public to judge him fairly on actions by others in his city.
The latest thing to set him off was a shooting at Temple Landing on Monday, August 26, just six blocks from his office at City Hall. WBSM News reported that multiple scanner reports and eyewitnesses had indicated that two individuals were shot, and that both injuries appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.
WBSM News Director Tim Dunn had reached out to the New Bedford Police information officer Lt. Nathaniel Rodriguez who, understandably, was not available upon the initial attempt, which was around 9:30 p.m.
Dunn was trying to get the information correct so he could report it for the morning news. He tried again at 9:30 a.m. via text, phone and email, and even tried to get a comment from Jonathan Carvalho, spokesman for City Hall.
Lt. Rodriguez did respond at 10:32 on Tuesday morning, saying in an email that he could only confirm that one victim sustained a gunshot wound in the leg and another person "was treated for injuries," but that both were alert and conscious. He further defined the are where the shooting occurred as 160 Chancery Street.
Side note: both of the two people treated are minors.
Ninety minutes before Lt. Rodriguez delivered that information to Dunn, the entire New Bedford Police Department was emailed a report from 20:06 hours (8:06 p.m.) stating that units were dispatched to 166 Chancery St for two shots fired. Responding units found the scene was clear but found a shell casing.
Shortly after their arrival, the responding units were notified that two victims had been brought in (presumed by me to mean "to the hospital") in a private automobile. Neither name is provided, as the two are minors. The first victim "had a gunshot wound to his left thigh," and the second victim "had been shot in his right eye." Detectives were notified and took over the investigation.
Mayor Mitchell came on to Barry Richard's show Wednesday and laid into the news practice of WBSM. He seemed to be quite incensed that the news here indicated a double shooting.
It quickly reminded me of his bizarre temper he displayed in the halls of WBSM when I reported on the missing lumber at Quittacas last year. I know he didn't steal the yellow pine. He reacted as though I was asking to look at his mantle and kitchen table in his home.
It also reminded me of my next-door-neighbor John Zaransky in Brockton. Mr. Zaransky was a mechanic and had a badass black 1955 stepside Chevy pickup with cool chrome vertical exhaust pipes that were on either side of the back of the cabin. He also owned, by far, the greenest grass on the street and picket fences strewn with beautiful roses.
My bedroom window faced his property just 30 feet away and from the time I was small until when I moved out, I often heard him in his yard watering, weeding and pruning at 5 a.m. He was very meticulous about his property next to ours. We all had quarter-acre lots and kept them up well enough, but he was in a Zen level with the green thumb thing.
John Zuransky was a super nice guy. He once walked 25 miles from his truck that got stuck on Route 128 in the Blizzard of '78 all the way home! A simple man, pleasant and kind, but if I caught a football that led me onto his grass next to the curb, man did I get a lecture and briefly rude inquiry about why I couldn't find a better area to pass the football. It was really the only weird thing about the guy. We mostly respected his wishes and played away from his yard as best we could, but not always, like sometimes when he was at work.
That grass was his "precious." He even put cinder blocks along his front yard to deter cars from parking on or kids from playing near his grass. It cost me my freshman year of football at Brockton High because two days before practices started, I broke my ankle on one of those cinder blocks while catching a pass from Stevie O'Brien, my buddy from across the street. It was a pretty good catch! I jumped up high for it, over somebody (I forget now) but when I came down, BANG, my left ankle hit the top corner of the block.
I was doing the Curly Howard circles on the ground, on John's rich, soft green, green grass (which I couldn't even appreciate as the pain was so bad).
My football dreams were really crushed there on that curb on an Uncle Rico level.
Mayor Mitchell, don't be John Zuransky. Don't have that one quirky thing that makes people view you differently. Trust the public to judge you fairly. We know you didn't shoot at the kids. A shooting in the city that harms two survivors in the incident isn't all that much different than if one was wounded in the minds of the citizens. It's an ugly incident that could have been much worse and we expect to hear of these things from time to time.
You were falling over yourself to insist that Temple Landing is so much safer now than when you weren't mayor. I don't know that I would ride that horse right now as there have been two separate shooting incidents there in a month! What happens if there's more soon after? The point is, you're picking the wrong spots to polish. Temple Landing looks so much better. We can all see that the residents have mostly responded and take pride in the appearance.
I bet it is statistically safer as you say, but now is not the time to lunge to protect that stat. I think the safer response to Barry's characterization of chronic problems there would have been to include that "things were worse over there in the past but the City will double its efforts after these multiple shootings there."
People know the City. They will understand a more honest remark about the reality of the situation than you give them credit for.
Your anal tidiness about your record as mayor is kind of annoying and people are noticing in a big way.
Lighten up, Francis.
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 ken.pittman@