Councilor Ciommo has an e-mail problem

But unlike Menino chief of staff Michael Kineavy, Mark Ciommo says his problem is he has too much e-mail in his inbox.

Alex Selvig, battling again with Ciommo for the Allston/Brighton district council seat (this time along with Abigail Furey and Ben Narodick) said at a candidate's forum tonight he's made a formal request to Ciommo for all e-mail he's sent to or received from Kineavy. Selvig says he's particularly interested in any communications related to the BRA.

Ciommo said he plans to treat Selvig's request like a formal public-records request and that he will hand over copies of any e-mail. But that will take some time, he said. "I have currently over 8,500 e-mails in my computer. It is an arduous task." He said he's asked his staff to find all the relevant e-mail messages, even though that will take "many hours of staff time, which unfortunately will take my staff away from constituent work."

Selvig then asked if there were any computer engineers in the audience. When a couple of people raised their hands, he asked how long it should take to search 8,500 messages for any mentions of "Kineavy." About 30 seconds, one said.

"I have dozens of folders with files in each folder that need to be reviewed accurately," Ciommo said. "I'm going to be thorough and accurate when responding to a legal question."

Selvig then asked the audience again about how long it should take to search messages in several dozen folders on "Kineavy." About 30 seconds was the reply again.

More notes from the Allston/Brighton candidates' forum.



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    By on

    I suppose he reads every word of the phone book when looking for a number.

    lets be honest with one another here

    By on

    If he has over 8500 emails in his folders and he breaks them up by issue and/or other factors, he has a lot of work to do. I would not just release info that may be personal in nature, private to people who have called for help, substance abuse issues, mental health issues and have no bearing on the BRA and Michael Kineavy. They might be public records and if asked for every email he would have to give them all up and that would be easy to do, but that wasn't the request. This is nothing more than a ploy by a candidate to try and get some attention. Fine, that is what campaigns are for. But lets not buy into stunts as absolutes and draw conclusions. Don't forget he said he would turn them over. Why doesn't that count?

    Even if it is a stunt

    By on

    Selvig didn't ask for copies of every single message in Ciommo's mail folders, just the messages to or from Kineavy. Even with Outlook's brain dead search tool (I'm assuming, of course, that they use Outlook at City Hall), it shouldn't take endless hours that would otherwise be spent helping little old ladies cross the street to find those specific messages and then filter out the ones are about the day's menu at the City Hall cafeteria.

    But you're right - Ciommo did say he'd find them and turn them over.


    By on

    Your partially right. Kineavy, BRA and development were also mentioned I do believe. I could be mistaken but if that were the case then it would be harder. Also, the council is generally not supposed to communicate with anyone from the mayors executive office other than the liaison to the council (Molly Dunford). You all have seen proof of that in a previous email. Then Molly emailed Michael Kineavy. As someone who works in the building, I know this is how it works. MK is a strange duck and this is the way he wants things.


    By on

    The council or Councilor Ciommo? If Ciommo, please point to some proof of your accusation. It is very poor form to make accusations without any proof. I have not seen or heard of Councilor Ciommo not complying with any public records requests.

    Damn right

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    Damn right it should take 30 seconds, or maybe two minutes on a slow computer. Public officials might want to pretend we still live in the dark ages because they don't want to be accountable to the public. But everyone with reasonable understanding of an e-mail application knows how easy it is to find all e-mail from one sender.

    I am a computer engineer

    30 seconds is a lowball estimate, but not that far off. Once you know what you're searching for, it should take less than 5 minutes to find the relevant emails. It sounds like in this case they want any messages where Kineavy's address is on the "From," "To," or "CC" line.

    If the resulting emails then need to be reviewed for possible redactions, then that would be the most time-consuming part of the process. But the bottom line is that Ciommo's staff does not have to sift through all 8500 emails one by one. That's what computers were invented for.

    Speaking of things arcane...

    Sorry, but seriously: what in the Wide World of Sports are you trying to get across with all of the mentions of the steno machine?! :-)

    That just about cinches it

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    I've been fed up with these giant green Ciommo signs all over my neighborhood. It's a city council're not running for President, buddy. Then the snail mail spam bombardment began to commence in the same puke green color.

    Then this bullshit to try and make Selvig look like he's distracting from "important business" when anyone with half a brain would know that you can search e-mail in SECONDS for relevant information...

    Selvig just got my vote. I still don't have a definitive mayoral candidate, but Ciommo get out of my city council seat. You're not competent to run an e-mail client, so you're not competent to run my city.


    If there was any reason to believe that there was some sort of relationship between the sitting city councilor and the mayor's chief of planning, then yeah, sure, it should take precedence.

    However, there's nothing been suggested that there is anything going on here.

    In contrast, the case where the FBI (THE FBI) asked the city for emails was because two elected officials had been indicted on charges of fraud? That's a little different.

    The issue with the Boston Globe and the mayor's office is huge because of the implication - deleting six months of email (actually, more) including sent / received and all "trash" emails, is indicative of something fishy going on.

    This case, in Allston-Brighton, is simply noise - typical candidate tactics but I think they reflect poorly on the challenger, not the incumbent.

    Legit and Not Just Noise

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    The FBI that protected Whitey? You think that referring to the bungling FBI makes your point?

    The incumbent has a son on scholarship to BC, and has since changed his stance on BC expansion. Tell me why he should not be OPEN about any/all emails?

    Your two cents reflects poorly on you.
    FIOA, read it and learn.

    Uh, what?

    By on

    If the incumbent can't respond to a MA Public Record Law request in a timely AND cost-effective does that reflect poorly on the challenger in any way? If *I* went to ask for these things, as we're all allowed to do, then what would that say about the challenger? (Nothing.) And yet, what would it *still* say about the incumbent? (Everything.)

    Who cares if Selvig might gain some votes this way? Is what he's doing wrong in any way? It's incumbent upon the incumbent to do his job answering to every one of us. For him to hide behind a lie or intentionally draw out the process of answering to a constituent in order to try and make political hay is despicable. The correct answer from Ciommo is "I don't know what you think you're getting at. You won't find anything wrong in there. But I will have that to you by tomorrow, I'm sure" NOT "Oh well, in order for me to comply with the law, I'm going to need a week sequestered in a room with a staff of 5 people reviewing every single e-mail from the past 2 years in order to best fulfill your request...Boston might burn to the ground while I fiddle with Outlook, though (wink, wink)".

    Kineavy and Ciommo

    There was already a relevant message. Ciommo was still inserting himself between BC/BRA and the neighbors, even after he promised to recuse himself because his kid got a full scholarship there.

    Ciommo probably wants to be

    By on

    Ciommo probably wants to be careful to send over all the emails. In his situation, I'd want to be thorough and catch everything because inevitably if he missed even one and Selvig finds out, Selvig will go on and on about how deceitful Ciommo is etc etc. It's easy for us to say "just do a quick search for Kineavy" but we're not public officials. They are held to a higher standard. If he doesn't hand them over after he said he would, that's different story. But for now cut the guy a break. And this is definitely a stunt from Selvig. It's a campaign so stunts happen all the time but let's call a spade a spade.

    Here's a spade for

    By on

    Here's a spade for you:

    Except for very specific things (security plans, etc.), ALL information generated by City Hall and any and all employees belongs to the public.

    If a City employee emails about private stuff on City computers, he or she must keep in mind that it's public property which could be looked at.

    There is no option "to be selective" about what you turn over. Being "selective" violates Public Records Law and puts you in front of a judge.

    What you said does not

    By on

    What you said does not contradict my post. If he's being selective and witholding certain emails, that's a problem. But there's no indication that's the case. If anything he may be making sure he gets everything. Like I said, if he just does a simple search for "Kineavy" then hands over what he finds, he runs the risk of missing something. Later, if he gives overlooked emails, it'll look like he was trying to hide something initially. I don't know the councilor, but if I were him, that would be my thinking. And just because an individual demands public information does not mean that he/she should expect that information appear right away. Takes a little time to get it all together.