After hundreds of his filings, town can now ignore them
STATE REGULATORS are starting to say enough is enough when it comes to people who file an unusually large number of public records requests.
Rebecca Murray, the state’s supervisor of public records, previously ruled in favor of Wellesley and Natick officials who sought permission not to fulfill public records requests filed by people whose motivation seemed more about harassment than about accessing information.
But recently Murray acted on her own by refusing to process five recent appeals filed by Gerard Mackin, a retired attorney and Weymouth resident who had submitted more than 400 to the town since late 2018. Murray’s action essentially relieves the town from having to respond to Mackin’s public records requests.
Murray was quite familiar with Mackin. She has ruled on 387 appeals he had filed with her office. It all started out when Mackin filed his first public records request back in 2018 as part of an apparent effort to help his son, who was a Weymouth High School athletic director-turned-whistleblower. Mackin has long since greatly expanded the types of records he seeks to matters unrelated to his son.
“Over the course of Mr. Mackin’s numerous communications with this office, he has repeatedly made disparaging remarks about employees of the town and Public Records Division and refused offers to discuss his concerns,” Murray wrote to Weymouth Town Clerk Kathleen Deree.
One of the communications to which Murray was referring was an email Mackin sent to Weymouth city attorney Joseph Callanan after Callanan explained that certain records could not currently be provided because the school system was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Are you seriously suggesting that you do not have those materials???” Mackin emailed Callanan. “I think hiding behind a health crisis is despicable. Send those records today Oh DECEITFUL ONE.”
Asked about the exchange, Mackin said: “Callanan was being deceitful. I’m entitled to say what I want, aren’t I?”
Callanan estimates the town spent over a thousand hours dealing with Mackin’s public records requests and other matters. “We were willing to work with Mr. Mackin, but there’s no satisfying him,” Callanan said. “There was one day alone when he went so far as to file 79 public records request with us.”
Murray also wrote that Mackin, except in one instance, failed to pay the copying fees for the production of records. “This pattern of behavior demonstrates that Mr. Mackin’s requests are not intended to produce records . . . but rather to harass the town,” she said in her letter to Deree.
Mackin disagrees and said he has paid the fees most of the time.
The town of Weymouth is currently not responding to Mackin’s public records requests and Murray is refusing to process his appeals. He previously lost a court case against the town over records because of a failure to show up for the case.
Mackin also has filed complaints against the town with the state attorney general and the state inspector general. He also has filed a complaint against the Weymouth town counsel with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers. None of the complaints have gone anywhere, Mackin said.
Mackin is unfazed. “I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing,” he said.