By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV

NEWBURY (CBS) — The state Inspector General has issued a scathing report harshly critical of leaders in the north shore community of Newbury. The Inspector General believes local politicians allowed the rights of taxpayers to be trampled by private companies.

In July the I-Team went to Newbury and Parker River and reported that the Harbor Master was furious that four private riverfront businesses were being awarded slews of valuable moorings for free. They then would rent those moorings back to boaters. Meanwhile, other boaters sat on waiting lists for years.

State Inspector General Greg Sullivan recently said, “I think the selectmen should have followed the law…followed the state law.”

For the past year Sullivan’s office has been examining how Newbury officials distributed public moorings on the Parker River. 

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports.

The Inspector General concluded that the town-sanctioned policy “demonstrates extremely poor judgment on the part Newbury BOS (board of selectmen) members.”

“The people of Massachusetts own the right to use the oceanfronts and water ways,” Sullivan said.

The I-Team wanted to talk town leaders on camera about Sullivan’s findings but they all declined. In fact, the Harbor Master, who now answers to the police chief, told us he was not allowed to talk to us.

Last July the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen defended the controversial policy.

Newbury selectman Joe Story told WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve he thinks it’s okay for a private company to get moorings for free and rent them back to the public.

Now Story is in more trouble, the Inspector General finds Story’s family had a financial relationship with one marina, yet he still voted to hand over public moorings to the marina for free.

The Inspector General concluded: “The Chairman’s conduct in this matter reveals that he has fallen far short of the high standards…expected of public officials…”

The Inspector General has asked that the matter be referred to the state ethics commission.

Private marinas are once again paying for their moorings. But how many they get and who controls the marina’s waiting lists is still being debated.     

The Inspector General also wants to know why a town committee which was appointed to study the issues surrounding the public moorings was dominated by individuals with financial ties to the riverfront businesses. He has asked that this issue also be referred to the State Ethics Commission.


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