Cambridge City Councilor Wants to Subpoena Boston 2024 into Releasing Info

Councilor Nadeem Mazen wants to use a subpoena to make Boston 2024 release the remaining two chapters of its bid book. But will it work?

City officials on both sides of the Charles River are growing impatient with Boston 2024.

A day before Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson will announce his plans for demanding greater transparency from the Olympic bid on the steps of City Hall, Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem Mazen has proposed using his office’s power of subpoena to coerce Boston 2024 into releasing the two unreleased chapters of its bid book.

“We’re putting in a subpoena,” Mazen said in a video on his website Sunday. “The city council doesn’t regularly do this. I’d like to bring back this very important tool for transparency that cities have, to actually bring forward documents as an authority, in order to understand what is being explained and what is being done, whether things are just or whether they are not.”

Mazen says the council is filing a policy order instructing the city to issue a subpoena, just as soon as it determined whose authority it is to do so. “This is a tool, in checking with legal scholars, has been very under-utilized by cities in Massachusetts, and especially in Boston,” he told Boston magazine Sunday night.

“Absolutely,” Mazen said when asked if he’s grown frustrated with the bid. “When you’re talking about a group that seems to have a PR problem, and seems to want to correct that problem, it’s bizarre that they play this game of withholding key facets of the bid.”

Boston first published the first four chapters of Boston 2024’s bid book in May. Two chapters concerning budget information and political support have yet to be released, despite requests from the Boston Business Journal and Tito Jackson. The latter received a letter from Boston 2024 CEO Rich Davey on Friday, informing the city councilor he would not be receiving the chapters as requested.

“Boston 2024 will continue to seek opportunities to exchange information openly and transparently with elected officials and the public about the Bid as it evolves,” Davey wrote. “If there is any specific information about current budget projections or financial support for Boston 2024 that you need to complete your review, beyond what is available in our quarterly reports and Bid 2.0 presentations, please let me know what additional data you need, and I will do my best to respond.”

The subpoena power Mazen is referring to—specifically to obtain documents—is granted to elected bodies under Massachusetts General Law. “Witnesses may be summoned to attend and testify and to produce books and papers at a hearing before a city council, or either branch thereof, or before a joint or special commitee of the same or either branch thereof,” Chapter 233, Section 8 reads.

“Boston 2024 has released its entire 2.0 plan to the public, which was created after months of public meetings and extensive input from community, business and elected leaders, as well as Olympic planning experts and athletes,” Boston 2024 Chief Operating Officer Erin Murphy told Boston in a statement. “Bid 2.0 is the plan we are moving forward with and we look forward to continued public dialogue as we build plans to bring the Games back to the United States.”

Still, Mazen is confident the subpoena will succeed. “You can always count on something like that,” he said. “It seems like the letter of state law very much holds this within both our jurisdiction and authority. I don’t see any reason why something like this should fail.” He added that while he has not consulted with Jackson, he believes the two are “implicitly on the same page.”

In December, Cambridge City Council voted to oppose the Olympic bid, expressing disappointment with how Boston 2024 had compiled and submitted their bid to the United States Olympic Committee. “They didn’t reach out to me, and I represent a lot of people who have concerns,” Mazen told Boston at the time. “It would have been nice for [Boston 2024] to have a conversation with those groups that will be directly affected.”