When several reporters had FOIA-ed Marty Walsh’s email communications with Boston 2024, the Mayor’s Office told them that no such emails exist. Well, a couple months later, they finally found them. Maybe they were hiding under a couch?
The released documents contain two copies of the speech that Marty Walsh delivered before the USOC back in December when presenting Boston 2024’s bid.
Here is the most striking and disturbing part of the prepared remarks:
So believe me when I tell you, we don’t have real opposition [to the Olympics] in Boston. Everyone who is engaged; everyone who has listened; everyone who has faith in our future—understands the opportunity this represents for our city…Boston’s commitment to the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games is broad and it is deep.
On behalf of No Boston 2024, one of the groups organizing against the bid, I gave the following statement to the Bay State Examiner, who first broke the story.
We find it confusing, even insulting, that Mayor Walsh spoke of the support for the city’s Olympic bid as “broad” and “deep” and wrote off the existence of any real opposition when he held no open community meetings in advance of the submission of the bid. The first open community meeting was a month and a half after the submission of the bid. What right does he have to speak of the views of the people of Boston when he did not have the decency to ask them what they thought? It is, furthermore, strange and—again—insulting, for him to speak of how “everyone who is engaged” or “who has listened” agrees with him when he neither engaged nor listened to the public for whom he claims to speak. In fact, the majority of the most engaged people are the ones most vehemently opposed to the bid. They are the ones that have done the most research, are armed with the most facts, and feel like the Olympics would be terrible for our city. It is similarly insulting for him to say that “anyone who has faith in our future” thinks that his and John Fish’s vanity project will benefit the city. We have faith in the future of Boston and believe that future must be designed by and for the people of Boston, not by private entities run by CEOs and lobbyists and for large developers and other moneyed interests.
Although Mayor Walsh claimed that support was “broad…and…deep,” the only public poll released before Walsh’s speech to the USOC said the exact opposition. That poll—part of a gubernatorial tracking poll by the Globe in June—showed a majority of Metro Boston opposed to hosting the Olympics. Moreover, it showed that the more people heard about the bid, the less supportive they became. When people were presented with the leading arguments from both sides, twice as many people said that they agreed with the opposition than with Boston 2024.
We have seen the same dynamic in recent polls. The polling for Boston 2024 dropped over the past month as people had the opportunity to learn more about the bid and hear the hole-ridden case put forth by Boston 2024. And people have consistently expressed an opposition to public funding for the Games and skepticism about the promised benefits.
Moreover, it is difficult to understand how he could say in December of last year that support was “broad…and deep” when neither he nor Boston 2024 had released the bid to the public. There were leaks to the press every now and again, but Boston 2024 did not release parts of the bid book until January–after the bid was accepted by the USOC. Even now, they refuse to release the full bid, only sharing a redacted version with the public. because they claim transparency as “anti-competitive.”
Erin Murphy, who appears to have edited or at least reviewed Mayor Walsh’s speech for him, was in fact at the first No Boston 2024 organizing meeting back in November on behalf of Boston 2024. There were several people from Boston 2024 (especially Northwind Strategies) who came, and there was at least one representative from the Mayor’s Office. We allowed them to attend because we, unlike they, valued openness in our meetings. Chris Dempsey from No Boston Olympics gave a short presentation at that meeting, and NBO had already been around for several months, providing excellent information and resources to Bostonians who wanted to learn more about the impact that hosting the Olympics would have on our city. Both Boston 2024 and the Mayor’s office were clearly aware of the existence of opposition. Writing off the opposition as Marty Walsh did is disrespectful and shows what has been clear throughout the public meetings that he finally started having (although always shows up late): that he is not interested in having a serious debate about whether or not the city should host, or wants to host, the Olympics. Everyone that lives here should be incredibly concerned about the deceptive, opaque, and flat-out dishonest statements coming from the Mayor of their city, who one would hope has the interests of his constituents in mind. It is clear that he does not care about what residents of the city think.
If our rookie mayor wants to build a true legacy for himself, he should scrap the bid and start focusing on the real issues that matter to Boston.
Marty Walsh’s office has since claimed that he never said the words in the released copy of the speech. If he didn’t, then he should release the text of his final prepared remarks. It is long since time for some transparency from the mayor about Boston 2024.