New Bedford’s Credibility Crisis Is Real [OPINION]
When historic wood designated for the schooner Ernestina disappears, and no one knows or is willing to admit what they know about what happened to it, there is a crisis in confidence. We actually danced this silly dance with Mayor Jon Mitchell for weeks before reaching a dead end. We found out the wood was apparently given to someone for use in a house, but that person later sold it to sawmills. Who knows, maybe it will show up as part of a bar or floor downtown someday. We will probably never know for sure. The problem is that no one really cares enough to pursue it.
When the administration and former New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro spin the city's crime statistics and attribute it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and something called the "hierarchy rule," you know you are being played. When violent crimes are swept under the rug and kept from the public for political reasons, your trust erodes even further.
When the police chief and the mayor go on the radio and falsely state that a shooting at a police officer's apartment was broadcast on the police radio system as a BOLO, you just don't know who to believe anymore. When the mayor says he didn't know about a shooting involving two vehicles in broad daylight only blocks from his home you wonder who is in charge.
And now we have a member of the city council who walks after hitting two parked cars in a parking lot and damaging his own vehicle while perhaps trying to flee the scene at 1:30 in the morning. Even though Hugh Dunn couldn't remember his name and “seemed confused, shaken and disoriented,” he was not asked to take a sobriety test. No charges, no citations, nothing to see here.
Mitchell has refused to comment. Not a peep from the 10 remaining councilors, including Derek Baptiste, whose ward the incident occurred in. Not even a whimper from the police union even though its members may have helped the councilor to avoid trouble. Even new Acting Police Chief Paul Oliveira, only two weeks on the job, has lost his voice.
There is a crisis in confidence with the leadership in New Bedford, and those are just a few of the reasons why.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.