Has Anyone at City Hall Read the Boston 2024 Bid Book?
In the weekly “Ask the Mayor” segment of WGBH’s Boston Public Radio, host Jim Braude asked Mayor Marty Walsh if he has read the Boston 2024 bid book presented to the United States Olympic Committee in December. He said he hadn’t, but his lawyers did.
“No, I had my attorney—it was many, many pages. Our legal counsel looked at it,” Walsh said. “And again, in the bid it didn’t say public money. What it said in there was you could use tax financing. You could use bonding. It didn’t say the City of Boston was going allocate money from the general fund to buy these things.”
Boston magazine filed a public records request with the city following Walsh’s remarks Monday, seeking the still-unreleased fifth and sixth chapters of the bid book outlining budget information and political support. We received prompt receipt from the city within two hours, followed by this response Tuesday (emphasis ours):
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.
To review: Walsh said he never read the bid book, that it contains “many pages,” and that his legal counsel reviewed it, even though the city now tells Boston they never had the bid book in the first place.
“Mayor Walsh was familiar with the concept plan proposed by Boston 2024 to the United States Olympic Committee in December 2014. The City of Boston’s Legal Department was briefed on the specifics and advised the Mayor accordingly,” spokeswoman Laura Oggeri said in a statement. “It is the Mayor’s understanding that a large proportion of the details contained in the original bid book have changed. He looks forward to Boston 2024’s release of their updated financing and venue plans for the public’s review at the end of the month.”
On the surface, this appears to confirm what Maribeth Cusick, the city’s chief of government services, told Supervisor of Public Records Shawn Williams in an April 23 letter. She maintained that when the city handed requester Dan Currie three documents and no bid book in February, in response to his January 9 request for “all records pertaining to the proposed 2024 Summer Olympics that are in the custody of your office (and any other office, employee, or consultant subject to your authority),” those were indeed all the records.
“At the time of the request and subsequent response, what the appellants refer to as the ‘First Wave Documents’ were all the documents in the City’s possession,” Cusick wrote.
If City Hall was never in possession of the bid book, then Walsh signed the host city contract—contained in Chapter 5, which is still unavailable to the public in its unredacted form—upon the recommendation of his legal counsel, who relied on briefings with Boston 2024 and its consultants.