During a WGBH appearance on Monday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh admitted that he never read the bid documents that the Olympic organizing group Boston 2024 submitted to the United States Olympic Committee last year. Walsh signed those bid documents, despite never reading them, and was later part of a team that gave a presentation on the Boston 2024 bid to the USOC last December.
“Did you read the whole bid, the concept bid?” asked Jim Braude, one of the hosts of the program Boston Public Radio.
“No,” Walsh responded. “It was many, many pages. Our legal counsel looked at it.”
We have asked the city this question multiple times, but have never been given a straight answer.
We came to suspect that Walsh never read the bid documents after we made a public records request for them. In response, Laura Oggeri, Chief Communications Officer for the city, told us the city never had copies of the documents.
Although it turns out we were correct about Walsh never reading the documents, his claim that the city's legal counsel reviewed them conflicts with what Oggeri told us. It's clear from what Walsh said that the city was in possession of the bid documents and should have turned them over.
During the WGBH appearance, a caller asked Walsh why Boston 2024 never disclosed the full bid documents to the public. Walsh responded that the documents are “private” and that the group is not obligated to.
It may be true that Boston 2024, as a private organization, has no legal obligation to disclose their records to the public. But the city of Boston, a government agency, is required by state law to hand over their records to the public within 10 days of any request.
State law holds that any records “made or received by any officer or employee” of a state or local government agency are presumed to be public records (emphasis added).
It's clear that the city received copies of these documents, so they should have been turned over to us when we made our public records request.
It's outrageous that Walsh would sign the city on for a multi-billion dollar project that will affect the city's development for years without even reading the plans first. It's also outrageous that his office would falsely claim to not have public records in order to avoid disclosing them to the public.
If One-Term Walsh doesn't take his job seriously, it's time for him to find a new one.
Thankfully, he's an elected official, so other people will have an opportunity to make that decision for him pretty soon.
Just not soon enough.
Update: Laura Oggeri, Chief Communications Officer for the city, sent us the following email in which she reiterates her claim that the city never received a copy of the bid (emphasis added):
The City of Boston's Legal Department engaged in discussions with Boston 2024 and its consultants in order to be briefed on the specifics that would be included in Boston 2024's proposal to the United States Olympic Committee in December 2014 and advised the Mayor accordingly. Examples of those discussions would be negotiations on the Joinder Agreement (a document that was received by the City of Boston and provided under the public records law), briefings on venue plans and securing the insurance policy to indemnify the City of Boston (also a document that was received by the City of Boston and provided under the public records law). All of these discussions would have taken place as the bid book was being prepared and finalized. The City of Boston was never in receipt of the bid book that was officially submitted to the USOC in December 2014.
The bid book submitted to the USOC in December 2014 was a proposal and the plans included in the bid book are concepts. It is the City's understanding that a large proportion of the details contained in the original bid book have changed. Boston 2024 has publicly stated their plans to release updated financing and venue plans for the public's review at the end of June 2015.
Thank you, Laura
Once again, this claim conflicts with what Marty Walsh said on WGBH. It's impossible for him to have had the city's legal counsel review the documents if it the city never received a copy of them.