The City of Haverhill has declared a new reason for denying WHAV access to a secret investigation of its Public Works Department: the department is being sued for discrimination.
The city’s outside counsel, attorney Michelle E. Randazzo, notified WHAV Monday she would not release the 83-page police investigation as ordered last month by State Supervisor of Records Rebecca S. Murray. WHAV previously appealed the excessive amount of blacked out—or redacted—sections. Randazzo said the city faces a claim filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination by a former employee.
“While we believe that this complaint has no merit, we are obligated to defend it and will do so vigorously,” she said, adding the unnamed individual “directly implicates the matters addressed in the requested record.”
Randazzo further explained the city will use information from the 83-page “Highway Department Investigation” to “determine its defenses” and “evaluate potential witness testimony.”
Since last November, WHAV has been denied complete access to the report authored by Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro. WHAV was later joined by an out-of-town newspaper. The radio station has made progress with each appeal under the Public Records Law. As a result, the city gradually revealed Highway Superintendent Brian J. Zaniboni refused to answer DeNaro’s questions. Zaniboni has not been charged with any crime, but undisclosed “allegations” were made against him in an anonymous letter received by Mayor James J. Fiorentini.
The city’s outside lawyer previously gave the impression the report focused on the drug-related arrests of two DPW workers and a former worker last August. However, the investigation turned out to be far more broad-based, touching on sloppy city construction work, abuse of sick leave, nepotism and the undisclosed allegation against Zaniboni.
Fiorentini ordered the investigation following receipt of two anonymous letters, alleging wrongdoing. DPW employees Steven Allen and Erik Frasca along with former city worker Kevin Moriarty were later arrested last August for drug possession.
Upon the state-ordered release of a blacked out copy of the report, the mayor announced in February the city would retain Matrix Consulting Group to conduct a management review of the Highway Department.