Galvin orders T to release Green Line ext. report

Secretary of State says agency can’t claim attorney-client privilege

THE SECRETARY OF STATE HAS ORDERED the MBTA to release a sealed consultant’s report on the botched Green Line extension, saying the embattled agency could not withhold the document because of attorney-client privilege or a separate “deliberative process” exemption under the Public Records Law.

The decision came in the wake of two appeals filed under the Public Records Law after the T refused to release the report. The T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board gave a broad outline of the report by Berkeley Research Group, a consulting firm that analyzed why the cost of the Green Line extension went from an estimated $1.99 billion to nearly $3 billion. According to the presentation, the price skyrocketed in part because of a new bidding process that was based on selecting the contractor first and agreeing on price later. The consultants said the contractor “worked the system” to its own advantage.

The new price tag of the Green Line extension caught state transportation officials completely off-guard, resulting in the termination of the contractor and other firms associated with the initial bid. On Monday, T officials were hopeful they would have a new, scaled-back plan in place by May with a lower price.

MBTA officials denied requests for the full report, claiming the consultant’s report was launched on the advice of counsel and was protected by attorney-client privilege. In a follow-up letter, the T sent an unsigned letter claiming the report was also being withheld under an exemption in the Public Records Law that allows agencies to refuse requests if the documents are being used in the “deliberative process” to assist in forming policy.

On Dec. 8, CommonWealth submitted an appeal of the denial and about 10 days later, Adam Vaccaro of Boston.com appealed as well.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

Last Friday, Shawn Williams, supervisor of records in Secretary of State William Galvin’s office, rejected both of the MBTA’s claims and ordered the agency to release the report within 10 days. Williams said the report was not covered by an attorney-client relationship and added that the “deliberative process” exemption does not apply to “reasonably completed factual studies or reports on which the development of such policy positions has been or may be based.”

Jacqueline Goddard, director of communications for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said she is looking into whether the report will be released and when. If the T refuses to release the report, Galvin’s office could refer the matter to Attorney General Maura Healey for action. In the last year, there have been more than 1,300 appeals of records request denials filed with the Secretary of State; only one case, involving the Fall River police, has been referred to the attorney general.