A Hummel Report Investigation
Christopher Morra has been a polarizing figure in Rehoboth since moving to town from East Providence eight years ago. He was responsible for hiring embattled Police Chief Stephen Enos and is working to help allies of the chief stay on the Board of Selectmen when voters go to the polls on Monday. This week Jim Hummel has a few questions for Morra - and finds out that Morra has a few questions for him.
Click HERE to watch the complete unedited version of this interview.
During the interview, Mr. Morra made the following accusation: "Who's paying you to do these stories? Is it accurate that you are on Mr. Costello's website thanking him for a contribution he made to you?"
We have since discovered that Mr. Costello, a candidate for selectman in Rehoboth, does have a website and there is an email posted on that site from Jim to our "Hummel Club." The Hummel Club, as you may know, is our list of contributors and they receive, among other things, a personal behind-the-scenes letter from Jim. Mr. Costello does not contribute to the Hummel Report, is not on the Hummel Club list, and we do not know how he received copies of the letters. We have asked Mr. Costello to make this clear on his website.
We have not received, nor would we accept, funding from any elected/appointed official or political organizations in Rehoboth, or any other town. Furthermore, in order to guarantee complete editorial control for Jim the Hummel Report does not accept any funding other than those designated for general operations and, as a rule, Jim is not made aware of the names of our donors so as to maintain objectivity.
The allegations made by Mr. Morra are false.
``We had officers lie...some under oath...''
He has been a polarizing figure in Rehoboth since moving here from East Providence eight years ago.
Almost immediately Christopher Morra dove into town politics. And Morra, who formed Rehoboth's Reform Party has been no stranger to controversy in both his public and professional life.
Three years ago he was assaulted in the parking lot of his business, National Security and Fire Alarm Systems, in East Providence. Morra said it was politically-motivated.
Last summer a dead goat turned up in front of Morra's sprawling property on Summer Street. He called it the ugly side of politics in Rehoboth.
And it was Morra, as chairman of the selectmen's board, who ousted Police Chief Norman Miranda in 2008, paving the way for current Chief Stephen Enos, who has been the talk of the town since his highly publicized drinking incident at an East Providence restaurant in December. The current board did its own investigation and chose not to discipline Enos.
The Enos incident - and the way the board of selectmen has handled it - has in many ways defined a fierce election campaign that culminates Monday, when voters will decide whether to re-elect Chairman Ken Foley - a Morra ally and supporter of the chief - to a three-year term.
Also at stake, a one-year term for the seat held by Kevin McBride, who resigned as selectman three months ago - in part over the way the Enos incident was handled.
After McBride crushed him in the 2009 elections, Morra resurfaced as the chairman of the town's Finance Committee and is a regular at selectmen's meetings. His company, National Security, installed a phone system that was the subject of a Hummel Report investigation earlier this month. We found the chief was not enforcing a requirement of his officers notify those on the other end of outgoing calls that they were being recorded.
Morra says he has installed, free of charge, security or alarm systems at Town Hall and the Senior Center.
We learned that Morra's company was at the station the day after our story ran to convert the chief's private line to an unrecorded outgoing line. There was no record of a work order so we wanted to ask him about it - and the relationship his company has with the town.
We didn't get very far before Morra went on the offensive.
Hummel: ``I just had a question for you, your company was there on Friday to install the line at the police station...National Security?''
Morra: ``I don't know what you're talking about. We weren't there to install anything.''
Hummel: ``Your company was not at the...''
Morra: ``Did I give you permission to record me right now? Did you ask my permission?''
Hummel: ``I don't need your permission.''
Morra: ``You do, in Massachusetts you do.''
Hummel: `` I don't.''
Morra: ``Yes, you do.''
Hummel: ``We both know we're being recorded.''
Morra: ``No, I do not know that. You just stick a camera in front of me.''
Morra continued to avoid our questions about his company.
Hummel: ``What do you want to hide behind?''
Morra: ``No, you're the one hiding. You're doing false stories.''
Hummel: ``National Security has done no work?''
Morra: ``False stories.''
Hummel: ``Let's talk...we're asking you a question.''
Morra: ``Thank you.''
Hummel: ``Hey, you're a public official.''
Morra: ``Don't get in my way.''
Hummel: ``You're a public official.''
Morra: ``Out of my way. Don't block my way.''
Hummel: ``Has your company done the work?''
MorraL ``Listen, I just said to you.''
Humme: ``Has your company done work...''
Morra: ``I'm done talking to you. You're not a creditable person. Why don't you put THAT on the news.''
Hummel: ``I'd be happy to.''
Morra: ``You're not a creditable person.''
Hummel: ``We're recording now you know.''
Morra: ``Yes, that's okay. You're not a creditable person.''
As we continued to question Morra, resident Robert Benoit took issue with our recording in a public building.
(cane hits camera)
Benoit: ``I don't want to be on camera.''
Hummel: ``You're not on the camera.''
Benoit: ``Get out of here!'' (cane hits camera)
Chief Enos - in a report to the Selectmen confirmed that Morra's company was the original vendor that installed the phone system and that National Security was, in fact, at the station working on it earlier this month - our original question to Morra - who even this week would still not confirm it.
Morra - at the meeting - then challenged us to do stories about what he called corruption in the town - claiming the Hummel Report is aligned with a citizens group in town that has been funding our stories..
Hummel: ``This has all been about Chief Enos. It's got nothing to do with them.''
Morra: ``At this point you're harassing the person. You're harassing the person.''
Hummel: ``Do you speak for him now, are you his spokesman?''
Morra: ``No I'm speaking of a citizen of the town right now I'm entitled to my opinion. And I'm giving you my opinion.''
Hummel: ``Can you tell your friend, the chief, to give me a call back so we can get his side of the story?''
Morra: ``Don't refer to him as my friend because now you're being distorted.''
Hummel: ``You're defending him. You just told me I mis-reported his time sheets - when I called him directly and he chose not to call me back.''
Morra: ``Hey, that's what you say. I really don't buy it. I find you very unprofessional.''
During our interview one of Morra's friends called the Rehoboth Police, claiming we had assaulted him. A lieutenant who responded to the call told Morra he was free to walk away.
Morra: ``Don't say I can leave. You're telling me I can leave when these people are in my face.''
Officer: ``If he's annoying you can get up and leave as well as he can leave if he's troubling you.''
Morra: ``I'm here to be at a Board of Selectmen's meeting. I'm not here to be harassed by you or these people, or anyone.''
Officer: `` I'm just responding to a call.''
Morra: ``Don't say to me that I'm the one who should leave when I'm asking these gentlemen not to interview me, that I didn't care to talk to them and they're forcing themselves in my face.''
Morra told the officer that he was not assaulted and didn't want to file a complaint.
Meanwhile voters will decide whether to re-elect Foley, or Planning Commission Chairman Mike Costello to the three-year term.