Walsh claims he can’t grab texts, LOL

Daily Download

The Boston Globe and Mike Beaudet, a longtime investigative reporter for Fox 25 and journalism professor at Northeastern University, made multiple and separate requests for texts between Walsh and his chief of staff Daniel Koh. Beaudet made his initial request with his students back in March for all texts and emails containing the word “Olympics.” Sorry, said the administration, no such communications exist. Weird, given the Olympic bid was sucking all the oxygen out of the news hole for months before.

So Beaudet broadened his request to include all Walsh texts over the course of a month. The Globe also submitted its own requests. Both were told the city didn’t have the “technical capacity” to produce the requested records. But, as you can see by the first two paragraphs of today’s Download, it doesn’t take a genius to snap a screen grab of a text and send it electronically or print it out.

It’s noteworthy that the administration released a series of emails back in March showing many aides engaging in conversations with Boston 2024 about the bid. But, just as notably, there was not one paragraph to or from the mayor in the 45-page release about the elephant in the room.

What’s fascinating to watch is the Walsh administration’s attempt at pretzel logic in explaining away the text denials. Walsh spokeswoman Laura Oggeri told the Globe, ironically in electronic fashion, that the mayor’s texts to Koh were off-limits. “Mayor Walsh does not make official decisions or conduct substantive city business through text message,” Oggeri wrote to the Globe. “To request his personal text messages is a violation of his private life.”

Yet Walsh constantly proclaims his interaction via text with other officials in the administration and around the country.

It’s hard to imagine each and every text between Walsh and Koh, who the mayor had no relationship with prior to hiring him last year, were of the “Hey, Danny, watcha doin’? LOL” variety. It’s also difficult to fathom the technological limitations of an administration overseen by Koh, who comes from a technology background, having worked as chief of staff at the Internet-only Huffington Post, which requires immersion in all manner of high tech. Koh’s hiring was touted as a key in bringing City Hall into the new millennium after two decades of Tom Menino, who forbid voicemail for years.

And even though Oggeri proclaimed to the Globe that Walsh has been “open and transparent in every aspect of his work,” this isn’t the first time the administration has been slow in responding to or outright denying requests for documents that are public records everywhere else and have even been here. After a while, it becomes a situation of “Who you gonna believe, us or your lying eyes?”

Perhaps Walsh, a diehard New England Patriots fan, is trying to emulate Tom Brady by just saying “no” to requests for his texts. But, unlike Brady, who was under no legal obligation to produce his texts for the NFL’s hired guns, there’s a little state statute called the Public Records Law that doesn’t give Walsh such an easy out. It does, however, make it a potential exercise in futility.

Both the Globe and Beaudet have filed appeals with Secretary of State William Galvin but, given the way the Public Records Law is working right now, it may be a long slog. And for Walsh, unlike Brady, there is no penalty to pay.

JACK SULLIVAN

 

BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker shifts course and decides to back a key solar power subsidy. (CommonWealth)

A Department of Public Health press release understates the rise in opioid deaths. The information in the press release was picked up by newspapers across the state. (CommonWealth)

The Lowell Sun voices opposition to the notion that we should legalize and control products and practices (marijuana, fireworks) we have difficulty policing.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Another faux pas for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh: The mayor takes heat for redoing the kitchen next to his office with some granite countertops and other furnishings provided by prominent developer Joseph Fallon. (Boston Globe)

Taxes and fees — and the grumbling about them — are on the rise in Fall River. But an analysis by the Herald News finds the Spindle City is still lower cost-wise across the board than several surrounding communities and nearby Gateway Cities.

Salem officials banned amplifiers on busy Essex Street last year, but not this year. Officials discovered tour guides and street performers couldn’t be heard. (Salem News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The first social impact bond program in the country — an effort to reduce recidivism at Rikers Island in New York — ends in failure as investor Goldman Sachs pulls the plug a year early. (Governing) Massachusetts is also experimenting with pay-for-success programs, and Goldman Sachs is an investor in a program centered around Roca, which attempts to reduce recidivism among people leaving jail. (CommonWealth)

Police shot a young man in Ferguson, Missouri, during a protest on the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

Donald Trump hits the Sunday talk shows to try to walk back his comments on women. (Time)

Renee Graham discusses the soundtrack of the Black Lives Matter movement. (Boston Globe) Two Black Lives Matter activists take over the microphone at a Bernie Sanders event and refuse to give it back. (Associated Press) Farah Stockman explores the endless contradictions of today’s debate on race. (Boston Globe)

Ben Stein, the former Nixon aide who knows a thing or two about “bad guys,” says Donald Trump fits the description and wonders what many conservatives believe: Is he a Clinton plant? (American Spectator)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Joan Vennochi explores the message of UFC badass Ronda Rousey. (Boston Globe)

National Amusements, the Norwood theater chain, bans backpacks in the wake of shootings in movie theaters across the country. (Boston Globe)

Blimey, this is just bloody wrong: A British consumer research group finds sales of tea in the United Kingdom have fallen 22 percent since 2010. (U.S. News & World Report)

EDUCATION

Hillary Clinton is set to unveil a plan that would help undergraduates pay for college while dramatically reducing the need for loans. (New York Times)

Massachusetts public colleges and universities spend tens of thousands of dollars on nationwide searches that often yield internal candidates who were right down the hall. (Boston Globe)

The anti-Common Core group pushing a ballot question to repeal the state’s educational standard is based in central Massachusetts. (Telegram & Gazette)

HEALTH CARE

A new study dispels some of the myths about super-utilizers of health care. (Governing)

Kentucky’s opioid epidemic has some warnings and some lessons for Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)

A citizen’s initiative bill in the Legislature would add personal beliefs as a basis to exempt children from mandatory vaccinations. Exemptions in Massachusetts are currently limited to medical or religious reasons. (Metrowest Daily News)

TRANSPORTATION

The Lowell Sun goes looking for a story on Uber but can’t seem to find one. CommonWealth is running a series on Uber. For the first story in the series, click here. For the second, here.

About a dozen tow truck drivers and their rigs gathered for a protest in Raynham Sunday to urge drivers to slow down and move over when they see them on roads and highways. Early Sunday morning, the third tow truck driver in less than a month was critically injured when a speeding motorist plowed into the truck and a disabled car he was servicing on I-495. (The Enterprise)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Berkshire Eagle questions why UIL Holdings Corp., the parent of Berkshire Gas, invested in the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline without telling anyone.

There are an estimated 25,000 leaks in natural gas lines across the state but utility companies are under no obligation to repair them unless they pose a threat of explosion. (The Enterprise)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans wants a law to regulate citizens filming police while they’re making arrests and doing other aspects of their jobs, saying the proliferation of cameras and cellphones is causing distractions and creating problems. (Boston Herald)

Attorney General Maura Healey and Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian pen an op-ed for GateHouse papers calling for the end of automatic license suspensions for drug convictions, saying it’s a barrier to ex-offenders trying to get on with their lives. CommonWealth‘s Michael Jonas spotlighted the problem in his piece on criminal justice reform in the most recent issue.

Emails obtained by the Metrowest Daily News finds that officials at the State Police lab in Sudbury were aware of problems with breath test machines as far back as February 2014.

A housing scam is growing in western Massachusetts where con artists copy pictures of homes for sale then put them in a phony ad to rent the house to unsuspecting tenants. (Berkshire Eagle)

PASSINGS

NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford dies at 84. (Time)