City Now Refuses to Release DPW Report Because It is Being Sued for Discrimination

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.

State Orders City to Provide WHAV More Information About Secret DPW Inquiry

The City of Haverhill has been ordered to better respond to WHAV’s request for details of a fall police investigation of the city’s Department of Public Works. State Supervisor of Records Rebecca S. Murray issued the ruling last week after the radio station appealed the amount of blacked out—or redacted—sections in an 83-page “Highway Department Investigation,” authored by Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro. The city claims it is excused from releasing certain information about employees, but Murray suggested the city may have gone too far. “Despite the city’s response, it remains unclear which redacted portions the city is claiming constitute personnel information,” she said, later adding, “This clause does not protect all data relating to specifically named individuals.”

Mayor James J. 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.

Judge Questions Delay as Haverhill DPW Drug Case Enters Seventh Month: ‘Let’s Move This Case Forward’

DPW employees Steven Allen and Erik Frasca were arrested along with former city worker Kevin Moriarty last August, and as their drug possession case continues in Haverhill District Court, the accused aren’t the only ones frustrated as the case enters its seventh month. At a compliance hearing Monday, Haverhill District Court Judge Stephen S. Abany wondered aloud why the men have had to largely put their “lives on pause”—to attend several hearings about the case, which centers around an alleged drug deal made at City Hall. According to a police report filed Aug. 30, Frasca—a 19-year employee—was found in possession of a broken blue pill believed to be Oxycodone. He is said to have conspired with co-defendant Allen to obtain the pill from Moriarty.

One Month After Burrill Hit-and-Run, Police Have Yet to File Charges

On Friday, Jan. 25, Haverhill’s Charles Burrill was walking from his home on Groveland Street to the downtown bus station when he was struck and killed in White’s Corner in an early morning hit-and-run accident. One month later, charges have yet to be brought against the driver, said to have allegedly driven away only to return to the scene several hours later. While WHAV asked for, and received, a partially redacted Haverhill Police report within 10 days of the accident, the fatal hit-and-run remains under investigation by Haverhill and Massachusetts State Police. “No charges have been filed in the fatal hit-and-run,” Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett’s spokeswoman Carrie Kimball told WHAV.

Secret Police Report Suggests Concerns About Highway Superintendent

A secret police investigation of Haverhill’s Department of Public Works appears to zero in on undisclosed “allegations” against its highway superintendent. A heavily blacked out—or “redacted”—copy of the 83-page report was turned over to 97.9 WHAV FM Friday afternoon after the radio station largely won its state appeal to obtain the information. The report, written by Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro last Nov. 9, reveals Highway Superintendent Brian J. Zaniboni at least initially refused to cooperate with police. “…Zaniboni contacted me by phone to state that he had a discussion this weekend with the mayor and his attorney.

Analysis: Does School Business Manager Fate Hang on Finances or Politics?

Brian O’Connell, rear right, told the School Committee last May of his plan to pre-pay certain expenses with an expected surplus—an amount members said should have been known and disclosed. (WHAV News photograph.)

Brian O’Connell, Haverhill Public Schools’ business manager, appears to be on the verge of losing his job. Depending on who is asked, O’Connell is either someone who bungled the school budget or a victim of the political winds that sidelined the former school administration. O’Connell—a 34-year member of the Worcester School Committee, a lawyer and someone who has worked in school finance since 2002, has served mostly quietly and behind the scenes for a little more than three years. Report: Ouster Plan Takes Shape at Heated, Closed-Door Meeting

Even though his $130,000 contract ended last June, O’Connell is still a city employee and his formal termination may require a two-thirds vote of the School Committee.