Full Disclosure

Full Disclosure

It's a simple equation: Transparency is only as good as the access available to public documents. With this in mind, CommonWealth has set up an information page to help residents wade through the state’s public records request system. Here you’ll find detailed information on making public records requests, links to records available online at state websites, as well as links to CommonWealth’s own growing public records database.

Public records makeover

Public records makeover

CommonWealth long has focused on the need for greater transparency in government. We’ve highlighted the needless secrecy surrounding the recipients of state tax credits and the shortcomings of the financial disclosure forms filed by government officials. We’ve even had some success in addressing those issues. The state plans to start identifying the recipients of certain tax credits next year. And we’ve tried to make financial disclosure forms more accessible to the public by spending thousands of our own dollars buying copies of the forms from the State Ethics Com­mission and posting them on our website.

But one area where we’ve had little success is the state’s Public Records Law. We published a cover story on the law in 2008 (“Public records not so public,” Fall ’08), highlighting the many stonewalling tactics used by public officials to avoid turning over documents. We’ve also published numerous articles on our website about rulings on appeals of records denials.

In this issue, Michael Morisy offers his own unique perspective. Morisy runs MuckRock, which files public records requests on behalf of the public. Users simply fill out a form detailing what information they want and Muck­Rock takes care of the rest. It writes the request, figures out who it should be sent to, and follows up if the information isn’t forthcoming.

MuckRock’s results so far have been disappointing. Of 94 requests MuckRock has helped users file at the state and local level in Massachusetts, only 36 have been answered, Morisy writes. That’s a good batting average for baseball, but it’s pretty dismal for gaining access to the inner workings of government.

“The opacity carries a very real cost,” writes Morisy. “In the past few years alone, Massachusetts has paid a terrible price for a lack of transparency in the form of patronage, kickbacks, payoffs, and the implosion of one of the Com­mon­wealth’s largest investments in a private company, Evergreen Solar.”

While a revamped Public Records Law wouldn’t solve all of these problems, it could help. We rely on the Public Records Law a lot at CommonWealth. In this issue, contributing writer Colman Herman gathered much of the information for his Inquiry on the lucrative lease deals given to the Swan Boats in the Public Garden and Sullivan’s on Castle Island using the Public Records Law. He also spent more than six months trying to obtain records on other real estate deals from the state Department of Con­servation and Recreation and the Division of Capital Asset Management with minimal success.

For my story on the governor’s crackdown on compensation at the state’s authorities, I tried to find out how much MassDevelopment was paying its private attorneys to fight a $562,000 severance payment being sought by Ben Caswell, who was booted from his job at another authority when it was merged with MassDevelopment. Mass­Development denied my request, arguing that the fee arrangement was protected by attorney-client privilege and exempt from the Public Records Law. I can understand why a lawyer’s legal advice to a client would be shielded, but I see no reason why the fees he is paid deserve the same protection. We’re appealing the authority’s decision.

It seems obvious the Public Records Law needs a make­over. It should be expanded to cover the governor’s office, the judicial branch, and the Legislature. Exemptions from the law should be minimized and spelled out more clearly. Oversight of the law needs to be concentrated in one office instead of split between the secretary of state and the attorney general.

But most of all there needs to be a fundamental change in attitude about transparency in government. All too often the pursuit of information becomes a game of cat and mouse between government officials and reporters, with excesses on both sides. The games need to end. After all, what’s at stake is nothing less than the accountability of government to those they govern. Pretty important stuff, we think.

Is the HEFA severance fight worth it?

Is the HEFA severance fight worth it?

MassDevelopment won't disclose its legal costs

Citing attorney-client privilege, a quasi-public state authority is refusing to disclose how much it is spending on legal fees fighting a $562,000 severance payment to an official who lost his job as a part of an authority consolidation last year.

Benson Caswell, the former executive director of the now-defunct Health and Educational Facilities Authority, is suing MassDevelopment, claiming the agency owes him a severance payment for terminating his employment after the two authorities merged. MassDevelopment claims the legislation merging the two authorities nullified the severance agreement.

The lawsuit, filed last October, has become a bitter contest of wills. In court filings, Caswell claims he is being denied his severance because he refused to appoint a political supporter of Gov. Deval Patrick to a top spot at HEFA. Officials in the Patrick administration says Caswell’s severance payment is a prime example of the sweetheart deals that were commonplace at state authorities before they began cleaning them up last year.

When the lawsuit was filed last year, the Boston Globe editorialized that Caswell’s severance arrangement should never have been approved but was nevertheless probably valid. “Patrick may not win a legal battle with Caswell, but it’s worth the fight,” the newspaper said.

To see if the fight is worth it, CommonWealth asked MassDevelopment how much it was paying the private law firm of McCarter & English LLP to represent it in the severance battle. MassDevelopment refused, claiming that payments to the firm’s attorneys represent privileged communication not subject to the state’s Public Records Law.

“MassDevelopment would be pleased to disclose how much it has spent on legal fees after the completion of litigation, but considers this information privileged at this time,” said spokesman Mark Sternman in an email to CommonWealth.

Sternman said the agency was relying on a 2007 Supreme Judicial Court decision that stated unequivocally that attorney-client communications are exempt from the Public Records Law. But that decision refers only to communications and advice provided by attorneys to their clients, not fees the clients pay to their attorneys.

MassDevelopment’s chances of winning the lawsuit are slim. Court records indicate Caswell’s severance agreement was properly negotiated with the former HEFA board and remained in force at the time the legislation authorizing MassDevelopment to absorb HEFA was approved. That legislation specified that all existing contracts at HEFA would remain in effect after the transfer to MassDevelopment.

Superior Court Judge Peter Lauriat recently rejected a bid by MassDevelopment to throw out most of Caswell’s claims, holding that Caswell has “set forth sufficient facts, at this early stage of the proceedings, to support an entitlement to relief.”

Records law doesn't apply to governor

Records law doesn’t apply to governor

Galvin says Patrick's office is exempt

Another in a series of occasional articles concerning Massachusetts public records and open meetings laws.

Responding to an appeal filed by CommonWealth, Secretary of State William F. Galvin officially ruled that Gov. Deval Patrick is not subject to the Massachusetts Public Records Law.

The ruling, issued by Galvin’s top public records deputy, appears to be the first time the secretary has issued a written ruling accepting the opinion that the governor’s office is not required to comply with the state’s Public Records Law.

Patrick, like his predecessors Mitt Romney and Paul Cellucci, says a 1997 Supreme Judicial Court decision, Lambert v. Judicial Nominating Council, exempted his office from the disclosure requirements of the Public Records Law. The court in that case held that “the governor is not explicitly included” in the definition of who is covered by the Public Records Law and therefore not subject to it.

Media attorneys who have reviewed the Lambert case have argued that it was a fairly narrow ruling on the issue of whether a personal questionnaire completed by an applicant for judicial appointment was a public record. But Galvin’s decision sides with the governor that the ruling was far more sweeping.

The governor isn’t the only public official exempt from the Public Records Law. The judicial branch, including the Probation Department, and the Legislature are exempted by statute or regulation from the law.

Galvin’s spokesman previously told CommonWealth that he would like the Public Records Law to cover the governor, the judicial branch, and the Legislature. Many bills are pending on Beacon Hill dealing with the Public Records law, but only one would extend its reach to portions of the judicial branch and none would cover the governor’s office or the Legislature.

Galvin’s ruling came in response to an appeal filed by CommonWealth seeking documents from the governor’s office related to UMass Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan’s withdrawal of his name from consideration for the presidency of the University of Massachusetts, and Robert Manning’s resignation from the UMass board of trustees. Both of these controversial events occurred in the space of a few weeks in response to concerns Patrick and his staff had raised about the search process for a new UMass president.

Patrick’s aides say the governor voluntarily responds to most public records request, and he did produce a number of emails in response to CommonWealth’s request for information on Meehan and Manning. But virtually all of the emails were sent or received by his communications staff. None were sent to or by the governor himself.

Since no emails from or to the governor had turned up in any of its previous public records requests, CommonWealth sent another request to Patrick’s office asking whether the governor’s own files had been searched for records related to Meehan and Manning. When the governor’s office did not respond to the request, an appeal was filed with Galvin’s office.

Alan Cote, who works as Galvin’s supervisor of public records, denied the appeal, citing the Supreme Judicial Court’s Lambert ruling.  “As such,” Cote wrote, “governor’s records are not public records subject to disclosure under the Public Records Law.”

In his ruling, Cote also noted that public officials are not required to answer questions, an apparent reference to CommonWealth’s inquiry on whether the governor’s own files had been searched.

Globe files suit on severance records

Globe files suit on severance records

A rundown of bills dealing with the Public Records Law

Another in a series of occasional articles on public records and open meetings issues.

The Boston Globe is suing eight Massachusetts executive agencies plus the Massachusetts Port Authority and the Office of the Comptroller for their refusal to provide the names of employees who have received substantial severance and settlement payments, despite being ordered to do so by the secretary of state.

Last year, Globe business reporter Todd Wallack asked each of the agencies for copies of any “separation, severance, transition or settlement agreements” made since January 1, 2005 between the agencies and their employees that include compensation, benefits, or other payments worth more than $10,000, which he subsequently narrowed to $50,000 or more. The Globe’s request was the focus of an earlier report on public records appeals in CommonWealth.

Several dozen records were eventually turned over to Wallack by Gov. Deval Patrick’s office, but with the names and other identifying information regarding the employees redacted based on a variety of claimed exemptions.

“While we understand that employee names, positions, and salaries are publicly available, the types of agreements you have requested are far more personally sensitive,” wrote Mark Reilly, the governor’s legal counsel, in a letter to Wallack.  “The agreements relate to personal disputes often involving employee discipline including termination.” Massport and the comptroller cited similar reasons.

The Globe argues in its lawsuit that the records it is seeking are not personnel records that are off limits, but rather are more like salaries and other forms of compensation about which the public has a right to know.

Globe editor Martin Baron says the newspaper is filing the lawsuit to uphold a simple but important principle. “Taxpayers are entitled to know who is getting their money,” he says. “When the government doesn’t release that information, and we are convinced they’re legally obligated to provide it, we will press the issue — in court, if necessary.”

Reilly says the settlement agreements are public records but not the names of the individuals themselves. “Based on prior rulings of the Supreme Judicial Court, we believe that we are legally bound to respect privacy interests of individual employees in these circumstances,” he says.

Last year, before the Globe went into court, Wallack, the Globe business reporter, filed an appeal with Secretary of State William Galvin’s office, seeking unredacted versions of the documents, noting the settlements involved millions of taxpayer dollars.  In one case alone, according to Wallack, an employee was awarded more than $300,000.

Last October, Alan Cote, who handles public records appeals on behalf of Galvin, ruled in Wallack’s favor. When the governor refused to comply, the Globe went into court seeking a preliminary injunction ordering the agencies to produce the records so the “public can evaluate for itself the performance of public employees in making and paying claims brought against the Commonwealth.”

********

Several bills strengthening the state’s Public Records and Open Meeting Laws are pending on Beacon Hill.

One bill, jointly filed by Sen. James Eldridge of Acton and Rep. Antonio Cabral of New Bedford, would make all the administrative records of the judicial branch subject to the Public Records Law, including those of the Probation Department and the office of the chief justice of administration and management

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland is noncommittal about the legislation. “I support transparency in the judicial branch,” he says. “But the details of the bill would need to be analyzed by the Court before I could comment on the substance of the proposed legislation.”

Secretary of State William Galvin has filed two pieces of legislation that would wrest enforcement powers over the Public Records Law away from Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Galvin’s division of public records, which is headed up by a supervisor of public records, hears appeals from citizens who encounter difficulty accessing records.  But if a public official refuses to comply with an order from Galvin, he has to turn the case over to Coakley for enforcement. Galvin and Coakley often don’t see eye-to-eye on what constitutes a public record. One source says that Galvin referred 13 cases to the attorney general since January 2007, including only three in the past two years — none of which resulted in enforcement action.

Galvin’s legislation would allow him to conduct inquiries to determine whether the Public Records Law has been violated, and if he finds that it has, to issue an order requiring compliance.  In addition, he could go into court to require compliance if his order is ignored. 

Cabral, the New Bedford representative, has filed public records legislation that would take oversight power away from both the attorney general and the secretary of state. His bill calls for the establishment of a five-member public records commission that would “govern” the division of public records.  Although the division would still be part of the secretary of state’s office, the members, who would be compensated for their work, would hire and oversee the supervisor of public records.

“With all due respect to Secretary Galvin, we need independence as far as public records are concerned,” Cabral says.

The current public records law allows the supervisor of public records, at his discretion, to turn cases of non-compliance over to the attorney general for enforcement.  Cabral’s legislation would require him to hand it over to the attorney general or to the appropriate district attorney and to do so within five days.  And if the attorney general or district attorney fails to achieve compliance within 60 days, the supervisor may himself seek compliance.

Officials in Coakley’s and Galvin’s offices declined comment.

Cabral has also teamed up with Eldridge, the Acton senator, on two other pieces of public records legislation. One would reduce or eliminate fees for public records and the other would require public officials to make records available in electronic form. The legislation also contains a provision that would allow for reasonable attorney’s fees to a party seeking public records in any court proceeding if that party substantially prevails.  “It’s important that people who win in court in public records cases get attorney’s fees,” says Eldridge.  “This will encourage lawyers to take their cases.”

Four bills that have been filed this year concerning the Open Meetings Law, which requires that most meetings be open to the public. One bill, filed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tar of Gloucester would make the Legislature subject to the Open Meetings Law, which exempted itself when it originally passed the statute.  It would also require that the hearings of the legislature’s committees and special commissions be videotaped and posted online for at least two years and then archived at the State Library.

“The state government that proclaims itself an agent of transparency should not be insulated from it,” says Tarr.  “Legislators talk a lot about the need for transparency; it’s now time we lead by example.”

Rebate records withheld by state

Rebate records withheld by state

Names of rebate recipients ruled public records, but Patrick administration refusing to hand them over

Second in a series of occasional articles on rulings issued by the Secretary of State’s office concerning appeals of public records requests filed with public agencies.

The Great Appliance Exchange last year was a big hit. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, working with Mass Save, an organization composed of Massachusetts gas and electric utilities, arranged for rebates ranging from $50 to $250 to Massachusetts residents who purchased certain energy-efficient models of dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, and freezers.

The program was so popular that reservations for it, made by phone and online, were gone within two-and-a-half hours on the very first day of the program.  As a result, many consumers who wanted to participate were shut out.

Reports also surfaced alleging that employees of DOER and its parent agency, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, made reservations in violation of a Massachusetts conflict of interest law that prohibits state employees from having “a financial interest . . . in a contract made by a state agency, in which the commonwealth or a state agency is an interested party” and the employee knows of this interest.

Sarah Stolper, a WCVB producer for consumer reporter Susan Wornick, wanted to find out whether any state employees had made reservations. She asked DOER for a list of the names and addresses of all the people who had secured reservations along with the rebate amounts and how the reservations were made, but the agency refused to hand over the records.

The agency claimed the privacy exemption, which, of all the 70 or so exemptions available under the Public Records Law, is the one most frequently invoked. It permits officials to withhold documents containing information about a specifically named individual which, if disclosed, would be an unwarranted invasion of his or her personal privacy.  Its application is limited to “intimate details of a highly personal nature.”  If the details are determined to be highly personal, it is then necessary to determine whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs the privacy interest of the individual.

DOER Deputy General Counsel Rachel Graham Evans sent a letter to Stolper indicating that the state’s interest in encouraging robust public participation in the state’s energy efficiency . . . programs weighs heavily against the dampening effect of exposing the personal information of participants.”

Stephan Yuhan, an attorney with the Hearst Corporation, WCVB’s parent company, appealed DOER’s denial to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office, arguing the public interest in disclosure far outweighs any privacy interests. “The public has an interest in knowing whether public servants are carrying out their duties in an efficient and law-abiding manner,” he said in his appeal.

Last August, Alan Cote, who handles public records appeals for Galvin, ordered DOER to turn over the records to Stolper. “The information requested is generic and the invasion, if any, is minimal,” Cote wrote. “A mere list of names and addresses of persons who signed up for a state program is not enough to constitute an unwarranted invasion [of privacy].”

Cote noted that the individuals who signed up for the rebates were not seeking highly personal information, such as unemployment benefits.  He also said the public is very interested in the rebate program out of concern for how it was administered and the allegation that employees were permitted to participate.

Cote denied a request for reconsideration in January, telling the DOER’s attorney that, if she is not satisfied with his ruling, she can take the matter into court. As of now, the  case is in limbo: DOER has not gone into court and, according to Stolper, hasn’t turned over the records.

Everybody knew

Everybody knew

commonwealth first began investigating patronage at Probation in 2008. We tried to pry records from the Probation Department under the state’s Public Records Law, but the agency, as part of the judiciary, said it was exempt from the statute (see related story in Inquiries).

We also interviewed people who were in a position to know what was going on at Probation, but they had little to say. Former Supreme Judicial Court chief justice Margaret Marshall, for example, talked with pride during an interview a year ago about the court system’s embrace of transparency and accountability on her watch (“Hail to the Chief,” Winter ’10). She boasted that staffing models allowed her to know precisely how many employees each court needed to do its job.

Yet when I asked her about the lack of transparency at the Probation Department and why those same staffing models were not applied to that agency, her answer was baffling. “When we did the staffing model for the processing of cases, the same study was not done for the processing of Probation,” she said. “Of course, I’m aware of the concerns that are expressed, but if your question is, is there some way that I can’t get access to data, the answer to that is no.”

Robert Mulligan, chief justice for administration and management and the man who oversaw Probation, didn’t speak out either. He apparently was raising concerns internally about patronage at Probation, but felt his hands were tied by laws that allowed him to reject new employees only if the court’s hiring procedures were violated. It turns out those procedures were violated—repeatedly.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who often remarks now about his long-standing concern about Probation, had little to say about patronage a year ago when he first broached the idea of moving Probation from the judiciary into the executive branch. He and his staff talked only about potential efficiencies and savings by combining Probation with parole. His only comment on patronage then was in response to a question I put to him.

“Yes, I have a concern,” he said. “I have a concern about the accountability and the transparency of that agency.”

Yet four months later, when Rep. Charles Murphy, the chairman of the House’s budget committee, released a spending plan that kept Probation right where it was, under the Legislature’s thumb, the governor didn’t even respond.

The key players on Beacon Hill all knew there was a problem at Probation, but none of them blew the whistle. Former Probation commissioner John O’Brien hired the people recommended by powerful politicians, apparently so those politicians would keep increasing his budget. Court and administration officials stood by silently and did little or nothing out of fear the Legislature would cut their budgets or derail their legislative priorities if they spoke out. Keep in mind the causal factorsIn short, the power dynamics on Beacon Hill made it difficult, if not impossible, for calls for reform at Probation to bubble up from within state government. It took a vigorous press to expose the problem. CommonWealth can take credit for breaking several stories about Probation, but it wasn’t until The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team published a report on patronage abuses at the agency last May that the whole dynamic flipped. The report gave all the players the cover they needed to act.

Marshall and her colleagues at the SJC appointed an independent counsel and gave him subpoena power the day after the Globe’s initial report. After his report was finished, task forces were appointed and the various investigatory agencies—the attorney general, the US attorney, and the inspector general—all jumped into action.

It might have happened a lot sooner if the Legislature didn’t micromanage court budgets, if the judicial branch was subject to the Public Records Law, and if court officials acted more like managers and less like enablers. As probation reform begins to take shape, these causal factors should be addressed so we don’t have a repeat performance.

Bruce Mohl

“Tracking the truth” timeline and documents

The Story

FOR 19 MONTHS, the MBTA allowed South Shore commuter trains to run at top speed over rails supported by crumbling concrete ties even though the transit authority knew all of the ties needed to be replaced because of defects. T officials say passengers were never in danger, but recently released documents indicate agency officials knew far more about the problem on the Old Colony lines than they were letting on … Read the full story »

Timeline

FALL, 1992 MBTA puts out bid for track construction for Old Colony rail with specifications using wooden ties because of two prior bad experiences with concrete.
NOV., 1992 According to a suit filed by the T, Rocla meets with T officials to try to convince them the process and manufacturing of concrete ties has cured previous problems. MBTA suit.
FEB., 1993 After another letter from Rocla promising price reductions, a 50-year lifespan and quality assurances, MBTA officials rewrite bid specifications for ties to be made of concrete, the suit says.
JAN., 1995 MBTA awards tie contract to Rocla, who lobbied for the change to concrete and offered specifications for the contract bid.  The T buys 147,000 concrete ties at a cost of $9 million.  The contract comes with a warranty of just 15 years – about half the life of wooden ties – and despite other major transit agencies getting 25-year warranties from Rocla for the same product that is supposed to last a half-century.
SEPT., 1997 Old Colony Commuter Rail service begins on two lines to Boston’s South Station, from Middleborough/Lakeville and Plymouth/Kingston.
JUNE, 2006 After trying unsuccessfully for two years to get Rocla to stand behind its warranty for more than 200,000 defective ties, New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority sues the company. The case is settled out of court and the records sealed.  According to budget filings by MTA officials, Rocla will supply replacement ties but the MTA still will spend nearly $125 million.
2007-2008 Amtrack begins replacing more than 176,000 defective concrete ties along its Northeast Corridor at a cost of $110 million, including $50 million from federal stimulus money.  The agency also settles with Rocla but only for the cost of replacement ties and not including shipping or labor for installation. The defective ties that both Amtrak and MTA bought from ROcla were made a the company’s Bear, Delaware plant, the same plant that the MBTA ties came from.  See “Backtracking” Summer, 2009.
SPRING, 2007 The first failure of ties on the Old Colony line are observed as the winter freeze melts, less than 10 years after commuter rail service is resumed.
WINTER, 2007-2008 Failure rate of concrete ties along both lines increase.
SPRING, 2008 MBTA begins replacing cracked, crumbling and broken ties.  No pubic announcement is made or speed reductions put in place on the tracks.
JUNE 5, 2008 In a meeting with the MBTA and Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail, the private company managing commuter rail service for the T, Rocla officials say all 147,000 are likely defective and will have to be replaced “in the near future.”  In the lawsuit that is later filed, T officials also say Rocla admits the ties never should have been marketed with a 50-year lifespan.
JUNE 11, 2008 In a demand letter, the T cliams Rocla offers to sell the T replacement ties at a cost of up to $15.5 million — $6.5 more than the original price, not including labor, and refuses to honor its warranty.  Rocla officials have never returned calls for comment or said anything publicly about whether they think the warranty claim is valid or not.  MBTA lawsuit. 
DEC. 5, 2008 In a letter to Rocla and its lawyers, the MBTA demands the company honor its warranty.  The company refuses, according to the suit.  Officials have told CommonWealth that Rocla threatened to file bankruptcy if they are forced to stand behind the warranty.
WINTER 2008-2009 Track inspectors observe a rapid increase in the number of concrete tie failures along both Old Colony lines.  Workers are quietly dispatched to replace broken ties on evenings and weekends, with no service interruptions or public announcements.
SPRING, 2009 Lab tests determine concrete ties are defective because of manufacturer design error.
APRIL, 2009 CommonWealth magazine begins making inquiries about the faulty ties after a reporter observes some broken concrete along the side of the tracks while riding the commuter rail.  MBTA officials, including then-General Manager Daniel Grabauskas, do not return calls for comment and decline comment when interviewed at public events.
MAY 21, 2009 Lawyers at the powerful Boston law firm Ropes & Gray LLP, send a notice to Rocla outlining their position and the intent to file suit.
JUNE, 2009 Then-Transportation Secretary James Aloisi admits the defective ties are a growing problem and acknowledges Rocla’s threat to shield itself with bankruptcy.
JUNE, 2009 In its first response to calls and emails for comments over several months, T spokesman Joe Pesaturo says problems with ties are minimal and do not affect schedule or safety.  “To date, railroad personnel have identified problems with less than 4,000 of the more than 150,000 concrete ties on Old Colony,” Pesaturo writes despite T officials being told a year earlier all ties would need to be replaced.  Read the emails here and here.
JULY, 2009 CommonWealth, in its Summer issue, first reports the story about the extent of the problem and, using industry estimates and other similar projections, pegs the cost at nearly $100 million.  T officials dispute the estimates of cost and how many ties are affected.
AUG., 2009 Daniel Grabauskas resigns as T General Manager, unrelated to the tie issue.
SUMMER-FALL 2009 MBTA increases the number of slow orders along the Old Colony lines and increases the pace of replacing defective ties.
SEPT., 2009 Pesaturo continues to insist there is no widespread problem with the concrete ties while announcing bus service will be used during non-peak hours on the Middleborough line so workers can replace broken ties.  He also says Rocla is expected to pay for the ties.  “There are about 147,000 ties on Old Colony.  Inspectors have identified fewer than 7,000 that need to be replaced,” Pesaturo writes.  “Meantime, the T fully expects the tie manufacturer of the original ties to honor its obligations under the warranty.”
WINTER, 2010 MBTA officials quietly begin preparing bid documents and procuring 187,000 wooden ties to replace all concrete ties on the Old Colony lines, according to a briefing for legislators.
MAR. 22, 2010 Richard Davey, general manager of MBCR, is tapped to take over as T general manager.
APRIL 9, 2010 Davey announces the MBTA will replace all 147,500 defective Rocla ties on the Old Colony lines over the next two years.  Buses will be used to transport commuters during nonpeak hours.  The Greenbush line, which does not have apparent defective ties, will also be affected when ties are replaced along the Braintree-to-Boston stretch.  Commuters on all three lines will have to take the Red Line from Braintree.  Read the email from Joe Pesaturo outlining the project.  Read a letter from Senate President Therese Murray about the effects of the construction.
APRIL 26, 2010 CommonWealth obtains a letter from Davey to South Shore lawmakers pegging the cost of the replacement ties at $91.5 million, which will be paid through revenue bonds while the T pursues a settlement with Rocla and seeks federal money.
MAY 4, 2010 The MBTA files suit in Suffolk Superior Court against Rocla seeking treble damages for the $91.5 million cost of replacing the ties.


Supporting documents

New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority’s suit against Rocla.

Correspondence between CommonWealth and T spokesman Joe Pesaturo:

June 9, 2009 10:25 a.m.
June 9, 2009 11:32 a.m.
June 10, 2009 1:20 p.m.
June 10, 2009 2:03 p.m.
September 9, 2009 10:26 a.m.
September 9, 2009 10:33 a.m.
September 9, 2009 11:17 a.m.
September 9, 2009 4:40 p.m.
September 18, 2009 6:34 p.m.
September 21, 2009 12:47 p.m.
April 9, 2010 1:08 p.m.
April 9, 2010 1:41 p.m.
April 9, 2010 1:54 p.m.
April 9, 2010 1:56 p.m.
April 9, 2010 2:47 p.m.
April 28, 2010 11:49 a.m.

Briefing for legislators regarding the defective ties.

Letter of intent to file suit against Rocla.

Letter from Senate President Therese Murray regarding the proposed repairs.

Letter from General Manager Richard Davey to South Shore lawmakers regarding the cost of the project.

Lawsuit filed by the MBTA against Rocla seeking treble damages for cost of replacing the ties.

Rocla’s response to the MBTA lawsuit.

Steward Carney 2011 Financial Statements

Per Diem Payments

These daily stipends paid to senators and representatives for travel, meals, and lodging whether the Legislature is in session or not. You can view them by clicking here; note that each PDF is for multiple lawmakers.

House
Senate


House

Aguiar Alicea
Arciero Ashe
Atkins Allen
Atsalis Ayers
Balser Barrows
Basile Benson
Binienda Bowles
Bradley Brownsberger
Brady Bosley
Cabral Callahan
Calter Campbell
Canavan Canessa
Cantwell Clark
Conroy Costello
Creedon Curran
DAmico deMacedo
Deleo Dempsey
DiMasi DiNatale
Donato Donelan
Driscoll Evangelidis
Dykema Dwyer
Erlich Falzone
Fagan Fallon
Fennell Finegold
Fernandes Ferrante
Flynn Forry
Fresolo Fox
Frost Galvin
Garballey Garry
Gifford Gobi
Golden Grant
Gregoire Greene
Guyer Haddad
Hargraves Harkins
Hecht Hill
Hogan Honan
Humason Jones
Kafka Kane
Kaufman Keenan
Khan Kocot
Kujawski Kulik
Lantigua Lewis
Linsky LItalien
Madden Malia
Mariano McCarthy
McMurtry Michlewitz
Miceli Moran
Murphy C Murphy K
Murphy J Nangle
Naughton Nyman
ODay OFlaherty
Patrick Peake
Pedone Peisch
Perry Peterson
Petrolati Pignatelli
Polito Provost
Puppolo Poirier
Quinn Reinstein
Rice Richardson
Rivera Rodrigues
Rogers Rogeness
Rosa Ross
Rush Rushing
Sannicandro Sanchez
Scaccia Sandlin
Scibak Smith
Smizik Flanagan
Smola Sciortino
Speliotis Spellane
Speranzo SpiliotisJarvis
StanleyH Story
StFleur Stanley
Straus Sullivan
Swan Timilty
Tobin Toomey
Torrisi Turkington
Turner Vallee
Verga Wagner
Wallace Walsh
Walrath WalshM
Walz Welch
Webster Wolf

Senate

Antonioni Augustus
Baddour Berry
Brewer Brown
Buoniconti Candaras
Callahan Devaney
Candaras Gale
Chandler Eldridge
Creedon ChangDiaz
Creem Donnelly
Downing Fargo
Fiola Foley
Flanagan Galluccio
Hart Hedlund
Jehlen Joyce
Kennedy Knapik
Marzilli McGee
Menard Montigny
MooreM MooreR
Morrissey Murray
OLeary Pacheco
Panagiotakos Petruccelli
Resor Rosenberg
Spilka Tarr
Timility Tisei
Tolman Tucker
Walsh Wilkerson

Missed opportunity

Ethics reform has done little to make public officials' financial data — and their possible conflicts of interest — accessible to taxpayers in Massachusetts

INTRO TEXT In the wake of the indictments of former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, a State House under siege by a fed-up public recently fashioned the first major ethics reform in 30 years. The legislation increased penalties for ethics violations and corruption, severely limited lobbyist activities, clamped down on gifts and freebies for lawmakers, and increased the enforcement powers of the secretary of state, the attorney general, and the State Ethics Commission.