OF SUBPOENAS AND POWERS OF A BOSTON MAYOR

Tito

^ requests subpoena : District 7 Councillor Tito Jackson

—- —- —- —-

Yesterday City Councillor Tito Jackson requested that a subpoena issue to the Boston Olympics Bid Committee, and to Mayor Walsh, to produce a document that Jackson feels entitled to see, a document that opponents of the Olympics Bid feel will evidence some sort of scandal and thereby destroy the Bid entirely.

The full Council will have to vote in favor of Jackson’s request, or it fails. I do not know how that vote will go, and this editorial will not opine on it. Our story here is a different one. The question we ask is, “what right does a Councillor, or anyone, have to see documents that, in our view, lie securely within the Mayor’s executive confidentiality (and which in this case have been superseded by later proposals) ?

As we see it, the Mayor is elected, and fully empowered, to make decisions for the City and to conduct negotiations on the City’s behalf also. In exercise of his chartered powers, the Mayor conducts negotiations that may feature proposals and counter proposals of all sorts and at many times. In the case of the Olympics bid, the Mayor has conducted such negotiations for at least eight months now and has entertained at least two full proposals. We know of these two because the Bid Committee has made the first proposal partially public and the second entirely so. The Bid Committee was under no obligation, in our view, to make either of these proposals public and did so purely in order to elicit public support.

The Bid Committee also argues that other portions of its proposals are subject to confidentiality agreements made between it and the US Olympic Committee, which oversees bids made by American cities and are therefore not to be made public. The argument is a sound one.. Which is why things now stand at the subpoena request stage.

Our view is that the internal confidentiality of Bid Committee proposals is an example of why the Mayor, in his negotiations with this or that entity, is accorded non-disclosure discretion.The Mayor cannot conduct negotiations freely if he has to worry that a portion thereof (and in this case, a proposal that has been superseded) will be made public during the negotiation stage. We support the Mayor’s authority in this regard.

The situation is no different, as we see it, from that which recently arose with President Obama’s Trans Pacific partnership (TPP) negotiation, wherefor he requested fast track authority not to have to submit any TPP treaty to Congress until the negotiation was complete. Unions put up a dogged fight to deny him that authority, but the President triumphed in the end, and justly : because he is empowered to conduct international negotiations, and to do so he needs full power to conduct them as he sees fit.

The principle is this : duly elected and empowered executive officer cannot be hindered in his or her powers simply because opponents of the negotiation oppose it.

Opponents of the Olympics Bid have every right to advocate their position, in whatever forums they deem useful for advocating. But their advocacy cannot intrude upon the powers of the Mayor.

My guess is that the mistakes made by the Bid Committee — and definitely, making public a bid proposal as a means of generating support for the Bid has been a huge mistake — assure that any major negotiation involving the Mayor and a group as significant as an Olympics Bid Committee will be made entirely privately, behind closed doors, so that “the public” will hear nothing at all about them, until an agreement has been reached. At which point it gets presented to the Council for debate and a vote — but not a moment before.

Nor will any sensible entity that seeks business with the City ever again put its proposal to the public during the negotiation stage. What sort of reckless naif would even think of doing so, after what we have seen happen to the Boston 2024 bid committee ?

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s