US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, whose office is suspected of being the source of leaks for Boston Globe stories about her investigation of union strong-arming tactics, is now saying that investigation would be compromised if Boston Mayor Marty Walsh releases to the Globe documents Ortiz has demanded as part of the probe.
Citing a memorandum he received from federal prosecutors, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Robert Tochka on Tuesday reversed an earlier provisional ruling in which he ordered the Walsh administration to comply with a Globe public records request for any subpoenas the administration had received in connection with the union probe and any documents supplied in response to those subpoenas.
Tochka said in his ruling that he changed his mind after receiving the confidential memorandum from US prosecutors. “This court concludes, based on the reasons articulated in the memorandum, that the city has now met its burden of showing that complying with the Globe’s request would compromise a grand jury investigation,” he wrote in his decision.
The strange turn of events represents a major setback for the Globe and a big victory for Walsh. It also raises interesting questions about Ortiz’s endgame.
The Globe reported on April 24 that Walsh had been drawn into Ortiz’s ongoing probe of union strong-arming tactics. The newspaper said Walsh was recorded on a federal wiretap in 2012 when he was working as a union official. On the wiretap, according to the Globe, Walsh mentioned that a developer’s Boston project would be held up unless the firm hired union workers on a project in Somerville. The Globe cited as its source for the wiretap information “people familiar with the tapes.”
To keep the story going, the Globe then hit on the novel idea of filing a public records request for all subpoenas received by the Walsh administration and any documents produced in response to those subpoenas. Walsh refused to comply, saying turning over the documents, if they existed, could compromise a grand jury investigation.
The Globe disagreed, saying in an editorial that there is no legal restriction on grand jury witnesses discussing their testimony or sharing information sought by federal prosecutors. “There’s no justification for continuing to use the investigation as a shield,” the Globe editorial said.
The Globe appealed the city’s decision to the state’s supervisor of public records and won. Walsh still refused to comply, so the paper appealed to Tochka, who initially sided with the newspaper before reversing course on Tuesday.
Ortiz is the big mystery in all of this. If her office leaked the original wiretap information, as many suspect, why is it now trying to clamp down on the release of subpoenas and other documents? Whatever the reason, her office apparently made a convincing case to Judge Tochka.
Gov. Charlie Baker taps three superior court judges, Kimberly S. Budd, Frank M. Gaziano, and David A. Lowy, as nominees for vacancies on the Supreme Judicial Court. (Boston Globe) The Herald’s Bob McGovern points out that none of them have appellate court experience.
The Massachusetts economy may not be growing as fast as all the cranes around Boston would suggest, as the state’s budget hole gets bigger. (State House News) The Baker administration now says revenue for the upcoming 2017 budget will be $450 million to $750 million less than expected, a hole that may kill spending on a raft of new initiatives, including opioid addiction services and early education. (Boston Globe) Massachusetts has wonderful history, including the inability of lawmakers to spend within our means, says Keller@Large.
Rep. Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead, who is sponsoring legislation to bar gun licenses to people on the FBI’s Terror Watchlist and the government’s no-fly list, is invited to the White House to strategize on how to push such legislation forward. (Gloucester Times)
An Arizona conservation group says the state’s rattlesnake island proposal is scientifically sound and should be pursued. (Telegram & Gazette)
Dartmouth Police Chief Timothy Lee, who has been on medical leave since March of 2015 for stress-related issues, has filed a $4 million federal civil rights lawsuit against the town, town officials, and the former police officer who falsely accused him of child exploitation. (Standard-Times)
The interim president of the Boston Public Library, David Leonard, has been named to the permanent post after a search committee’s first choice for the job turned it down. (Boston Herald)
The Worcester City Council approves a $611 million budget that increases funding for schools and adds police and firefighters. (Telegram & Gazette)
US Rep. Seth Moulton walks out of a moment of silence in Congress in the wake of the Orlando massacre. He says he is heeding the wishes of constituents who want him to stop being silent and start acting on gun control and other issues that could make a difference. (Salem News) The decorated Iraq War veteran also tweeted out a picture of himself holding an assault rifle in uniform, saying such weapons have no place on American streets. (Boston Globe) Read Moulton’s commentary on the issue. (New York Daily News)
The Senate voted to require women turning 18 to register for the draft, a move staunchly opposed by conservatives and which faces an uncertain fate in the House. (New York Times)
Republican leaders are upset that Donald Trump’s post-Orlando speech showed none of the toned-down, more presidential rhetoric he’s vowed to display. (Boston Globe) President Obama slams Trump hard while refusing to mention his name. (Time) The New York Times has a scathing piece presented as news but with the tone of opinion saying Trump’s rhetoric is unprecedented and unpresidential.
In a speech in North Carolina, Trump appears to imply American soldiers in Iraq stole money intended for aid and are “living very well right now,” but his campaign said the candidate was actually referring to Iraqi military. (Weekly Standard)
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders meet privately at a Washington hotel. It wasn’t clear if a peace pipe was smoked. (Time)
A federal Appeals Court in Washington, D.C., upheld the FCC’s decision to regulate the Internet and broadband providers as utilities rather than luxuries in a suit challenging the agency’s net neutrality rules. (New York Times) NPR has a good explainer on the case.
A study shows college completion rates for Boston Public Schools graduates are up, but there is a long way to go and huge gaps remain that have black and Latino students lagging far behind their white and Asian counterparts. (Boston Globe)
A state report on campus safety recommendations for the 29 public colleges and universities in Massachusetts includes a proposal to make it easier for students to report sexual assaults and ensure “prompt, thorough, and impartial” investigations. (State House News Service)
Scott Given, the CEO of UP Education Network, which has had success turning a number of schools around, is resigning. (Masslive)
A new federal report says early childhood educators are paid so little that many qualify for public assistance. (U.S. News & World Report)
Medical professionals at Boston’s Health Care for the Homeless program are monitoring people as they ride out drug highs. (WBUR)
The heads of the state convention and visitors bureau and the regional chamber of commerce urge the Senate to strip out a ban on ride-hailing services picking up passengers at the state convention center from legislation that has passed the House. (Boston Herald)
In the wake of an accident in April in which a woman was killed by a duck boat while riding a motor scooter in Boston, Sen. Will Brownsberger is sponsoring legislation that would require blind-spot cameras on duck boats and forbid drivers from also serving as tour guide narrators.
Governing explores what happens when Uber, dissatisfied with the regulatory climate, pulls out of a community.
The Senate passed a bill placing a ban on natural gas compressor stations near residential areas, a move that could block a controversial project in Weymouth. (Patriot Ledger)
A 2-year-old boy visiting Disney World with family from Nebraska was attacked and dragged away by an alligator and disappeared at a lake at one of the park’s luxury resorts in Orlando. (New York Times)
The family of a Westborough teen raped and killed in 2012 in New Hampshire is fighting to keep records sealed regarding her alleged consensual sexual history after that state’s highest court ruled in the convicted murderer’s appeal that the information should be public. (Associated Press)
A Brockton babysitter was charged with the sickening abuse of two boys, ages 4 and 9, by allegedly burning them with cigarettes, beating them, and torturing them in the shower. (The Enterprise)
Newburyport District Court Judge Peter Boyle received two cases in recent weeks where a defendant’s sealed record hid a previous operating under the influence conviction. Since penalties are more severe for repeat offenders, the charges had to be amended. (Eagle-Tribune)
A Dorchester Probation officer is charged with raping one of his probationers in his office. (Masslive)