Download Assignment of Moorings to Private Businesses in Newbury, Massachusetts, March 2011 PDF

TitleAssignment of Moorings to Private Businesses in Newbury, Massachusetts, March 2011
LanguageEnglish
File Size2.6 MB
Total Pages98
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Office of the
Inspector General
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Gregory W. Sullivan
Inspector General

Assignment of Moorings to
Private Businesses in
Newbury, Massachusetts

March 2011

Page 2

Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General

Address: Phone: Internet and Fax:
Room 1311
John McCormack State Office Building
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108

(617) 727-9140
(617) 523-1205 (MCPPO Program)
(800) 322-1323 (confidential 24-

www.mass.gov/ig
(617) 723-2334 (fax)

hour hotline)

Printed on recycled paper.

http://www.state.ma.us/ig/ighome.htm�

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harbormaster annually. Granting commercial moorings to private businesses in

perpetuity instead of annually as required by law and regulation is patently illegal.

The Chairman of the Newbury Board of Selectmen’s Request for
Money from Former Owners of the River Front Marine (River
Front) Property and the Current River Front Owner and His Vote
to Discontinue Mooring Fees Which Directly Benefitted River
Front

During his initial interview with the OIG, the Newbury BOS Chairman advised that prior

to his election to the Newbury BOS, he approached a former owner of the River Front

property on the Parker River and sought rent money because of boat structures that

were encroaching upon his land. Likewise at a later time he approached the father of

the current owners of River Front, in the presence of the man’s son (now a co-owner of

River Front with his brother) with a similar request for money. He stated that both

owners rejected his request and he received nothing. 12

During the OIG investigation, information was received that indicated that the

Chairman’s family had in fact received a payment from a former owner of the River

Front property. The OIG conducted a second interview with the Chairman in which he

admitted that he approached two former owners of the River Front property for money

on behalf of his father and both paid his father as a result of his efforts. He advised that

his father received $12,000.00 from one and approximately $1,000.00 from the other.

The Chairman also explained that he forgot to mention these payments during his initial

interview.

The OIG has confirmed the $12,000.00 payment to the Chairman’s father during

interview of one former owner. An interview of the second former owner of the River

12 As mentioned previously in this report, OIG also interviewed one of the current
owners of River Front and inquired as to his knowledge of an approach by the Chairman
to himself or any family member to request money because of interference with his
property rights. He denied that the Chairman ever approached him for money and
claimed no knowledge of an approach by the Chairman to his father. On the latter
point, during the OIG interview, the Chairman advised that when he approached River
Front’s current owner’s father to request money, River Front’s current owner was
present at that time.

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Front property confirmed that he also made a payment to the Chairman’s father but the

payment was $10,000.00 and not the $1,000.00 claimed by the Chairman.

The Chairman’s decision to vote on the Task Force’s recommendation to discontinue

commercial mooring fees for Parker River based businesses, including River Front, and

to grandfather the moorings for these businesses was inappropriate and displayed a

serious error in judgment. Given the Chairman’s admitted, albeit understated, history of

approaching former owners of the River Front property for money in his role as the son

of a private abutter and the two payments made to his father resulting from his efforts,

the Chairman’s vote which directly benefits the current owner of the River Front property

raises a serious ethical question that should be referred to the State Ethics Commission

for review. Moreover, the claim he made to the OIG that he did not remember the

payments, amounting to $22,000.00, rings hollow and strains credulity. The first

obligation of any public official to his constituency is honesty and integrity. The

Chairman’s conduct in this matter reveals that he has fallen far short of the high

standards that are to be expected from all public officials.

In light of the foregoing discussion and analysis, the Inspector General makes the

following recommendations:

• The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is requested to
reexamine the efficacy of regulation 310 C.M.R. §9.07(2)(d) which can be
construed by recreational boating facilities to give them carte blanche
authority to place whomever they wish on moorings issued to them by
municipalities. DEP is urged to clarify the language in this regulation to make
it clear that persons being considered for an open vacancy on one of these
moorings must be taken from a list maintained by the harbormaster that is
maintained in a fair and equitable way.

• DEP is requested to conduct an immediate compliance audit with respect to
River Front’s unauthorized expansion of its TDocks in the Parker River and its
apparent wish to place two 220 foot long floating docks in the river. DEP is
requested to consider as part of its review, the efficacy of approving River
Front’s expansion to date and its plan for further expansion in light of the
serious public safety concerns raised by the Harbormaster.

• DEP is also requested to consider the breath of control of waterway space
that River Front has exercised and intends to exercise in the Parker River. In

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