The New Bedford City Council's Committee on Internal Affairs is now on the case of the missing wood that was intended for the Ernestina before it disappeared sometime in 2016. Kudos to the Council for backing a motion by Brian Gomes which also brings the matter to the attention of the District Attorney and the Attorney General.

Some on the Council expressed concern over wading into a matter that may involve criminality. They are correct. It's time to let law enforcement take over now.

The public has a right to know what happened to the valuable yellow pine beams and whether someone profited from their removal from the City Yard at Quittacas Pond in Rochester. Who authorized the removal of the wood and who was it given to?

The Mitchell Administration says it was simply a "screw up" and that a DPI employee has apologized. The Administration also says that the person who ultimately wound up with the lumber has refused to give it back. Who are these people, and if the Administration knows who has the wood, why hasn't it been reclaimed?

Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

Mayor Mitchell says it is doubtful that there was any criminality involved in the disappearance of the wood, but offers no evidence to support that claim. The Administration's concern about all of this is underwhelming with Mitchell only last week asking the city's Personnel Director to look into the matter, even though he was aware of the situation more than a year ago.

The Standard-Times only reported on the missing wood for the first time today, and it is buried deep at the bottom of another story. Why is that? Maybe if someone suggested that Donald Trump had the wood, the paper might actually assign a reporter to cover it.

This thing has gotten to the point where we need to step back and hand it over to the Attorney General or the Inspector General for a thorough investigation. Someone, at the very least, gave away state property that was being stored on City property, and we need to find out who did it and 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 and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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