It took him three months. It cost the City of Boston around $60,000. Former assistant U.S. attorney Brian Kelly released his report on his investigation during the busy news time between Christmas and New Year’s. It was 11 pages long. It cost about $5,500 a page. It was well worth every penny to the major, the city workers and to the public.
Kelly did a very good job investigating something that never should have been investigated in the first place. He was called upon to do it by Mayor Walsh. He picked it up and did as thorough job as he could given the limited tools available to him. Unlike in his former job where he had subpoena power through a grand jury, this time he had to rely upon the voluntary cooperation of people. Those under the mayor’s control cooperated; those who weren’t held their peace except in a couple of instances.
The necessity for Kelly getting involved stemmed, as he noted in his report, from a paragraph in a federal grand jury indictment on September 29, 2015, of five teamsters which said: “On or about June 9, 2014, a representative from the City of Boston called the Omni Parker House to inform it that Local 25 was planning to picket Company A’s filming at the Omni Parker House on June 10, 2014. The City of Boston representative made similar calls to Menton.”
Kelly noted that because of that he was hired to look “into the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations contained in this paragraph of the indictment and to provide legal advice regarding these matters.”
He left no stone unturned and closely examined all available evidence. He spelled out his meticulous work in coming to the conclusion: “no evidence indicating that any City employee colluded or conspired with members of Teamsters Local 25 to intimidate or extort Top Chef. . . . No one from City Hall instructed Brissette to make these calls, and City Hall staff remained unaware that the calls had occurred until they were disclosed in the Fidler indictment. “
Brisette is Kenneth Brisette the City’s director of Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment. He made the calls to give a heads-up to people who owned the two businesses with whom he had prior dealings who planned to host shows by the Reality TV company, Top Chef, telling them the Teamsters were planning to picket them. He did it because he knew the businesses employed union labor and they may have been hurt if their employees refused to cross Teamster picket lines. He left it up to the owners whether they would host the show.
Kelly does a good job going into all of this and spelling things out in great detail. Those interested should read his report here.
Brisette was a guy who felt he should not let other people be suddenly confronted with a situation that might affect their businesses. Nothing more. He called his friends and told them of the Teamsters plans.
So why was a federal case made about it by putting it in an indictment?
Kelly noted in his report that Mayor on May 18, 2014, did an appearance for a Top Chef production at the Museum of Science in Boston. He added: “Top Chef continued to film in the city for the two weeks following the Mayor’s appearance without incident.” He noted how the City cooperated with it throughout giving it the necessary permits. He also noted that own their own without any coercion from anyone the two businesses decided not to host the show. Top Chef then found a location to film in Milton.
Pretty much a tempest in a tea pot. Then how do you figure this?
After the indictment of the five Teamsters for their boorish behavior at the Milton picketing site, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz issued a statement. She said: “In the course of this alleged conspiracy, they managed to chase a legitimate business out of the City of Boston . . . .”
That never happened. The Teamster have a right to picket. If a business person decides to voluntary do something to avoid their picketing that is how the system properly works. No one was chased out of Boston, as Ortiz would have it. Planning to picket is not a conspiracy. Far from being chased out of the City, Top Chef had been filming in Boston for over two weeks.
Whether the Teamsters crossed the line in their actions in Milton is not at issue. Ortiz deliberately conflates the alleged illegal matters in Milton with the proper procedures in Boston by adding it to the indictment and making the statement: “This kind of conduct reflects poorly on our city and must be addressed for what it is – not union organizing, but criminal extortion.”
Ortiz owes the mayor of Boston and the citizens of the City of Boston an apology for her statement they did something wrong or illegal. Her intemperate remarks reflect badly on her office.