How Boston 2024 documents went public
Boston 2024 released most of its bid documents in January after being selected by the US Olympic Committee to represent the country in the international Olympic sweepstakes. But Boston 2024 withheld portions of the bid, claiming the USOC insisted those sections be kept confidential for competitive purposes. As a private organization, Boston 2024 didn’t have to release the information.
But the full bid document was turned over to the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts when it was retained by the Boston Foundation to do a report on the economic impact of a Boston Olympics. The report, released in March, indicated a Boston Olympics would offer a short-term economic boost to the region but was noncommittal about any long-range impact.
Not long after the report surfaced, activists opposed to a Boston Olympics began peppering UMass with public records requests because, as a public institution, it was subject to the Public Records Law. Joel Fleming, a Cambridge resident, said he filed requests for emails between the Donahue Institute researchers and officials at Boston 2024 and the Boston Foundation. He said the emails that were turned over to him contained references suggesting the full bid document had been provided to the institute. Fleming said he passed that information along to Kyle Clauss at Boston Magazine, who followed up and requested the bid document.
The Donahue Institute, and UMass in general, are exempt from public records requests on certain topics, however. The exemption, identified as “u” in the Public Records Law, applies to “trade secrets or other proprietary information of the University of Massachusetts, including trade secrets or proprietary information provided to the University by research sponsors or private concerns.” That exemption apparently didn’t apply to the Boston 2024 information.
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