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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

“Even though we are joking these are FOIA-able"

If Michael Kineavy is as loyal to Boston Mayor Tom Menino as is widely reported, he ought to think about falling on his sword -- today.

Can you say "obstruction of justice"?

The "discovery" of more than 5,000 e-mails previously thought lost -- some related to the federal investigation into City Councilor Chuck Turner and former State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson -- adds a whole new life to what Menino has tried to dismiss as an innocent mistake by an overzealous clean freak of a top aide.

That and the administration's effort at a classic Friday afternoon bad news dump, one where they tried to hold up the media for the cost of finding public documents that should never have been "lost" in the first place.

Despite the fact that every public employee with a computer, including interns, knows e-mails are public records, we've been regaled with the image of Mike "Windex" Kineavy maintaining a ritual of double-deleting his e-mails before using a glass cleaner to shine his desk and turn out the lights.

How many people do you know who drag their e-mails out of the program and into the computer wastebasket? Rather, how many of us jam their deleted e-mails folder to the gills in case we inadvertently decide it was necessary?

And if you still need a smoking gun, how about this exchange among the newly unearthed missives:
In one e-mail, Kineavy made clear that he knew his messages could be obtained through requests under the Freedom of Information Act. “Reminder,’’ he wrote top advisers who were trying out jokes before the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast by e-mail. “Even though we are joking these are FOIA-able.’’
Darn right it's no joke. We may be escalating from mere violations of the state public records law to questions of the deletion of e-mails related to subjects of ongoing federal investigations.

It remains an open question whether any of this will change the dynamic of Menino's final election showdown with City Councilor Michel Flaherty.

But there is no question we are seeing an ugly side to the administration that was long known but never seen.

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Anonymous William Arnicar said...

While I of course appreciate your blogs real subject, I wanted to add a slam on the FOIA part of it.
Basically I think that you can drive a truck under, over, and through the exemptions that the FOIA hold for public figures.
In point of fact, it is not even a good tool any longer for finding out that there are records they have but don’t want to release.
Additionally with a degree of melodramatic flair, I think any person with reasonable access to counsel, could never be caught “holding” under the act, and its present exemptions.
A perfect example for your consideration;
Exemption 9: Geological Information
The ninth FOIA exemption covers geological and geophysical information, data, and maps about wells.
This literally means the Government can withhold information, which might prevent a regular Joe from falling down a hole.

January 31, 2010 12:59 AM  

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