I am the co-chair of Coalition Against Indycar Boston. I'm posting this on behalf of CAIB attorney David Lurie.
The Globe’s full-throated endorsement of Mayor Walsh’s re-election bid (“A Second Term for Mayor Walsh”, October 23) concludes that “Walsh’s record over the last four years should give voters confidence in his leadership.” Glaringly omitted from the editorial is any mention of the IndyCar debacle, which most definitely should give Boston voters second thoughts about the Mayor’s judgment, temperament, and susceptibility to insider influence.
At the behest of his campaign advisors Chris Keohan and Daniel Passacantilli, who owned undisclosed interests in the local race promoter, Mayor Walsh actively solicited IndyCar to come to Boston and touted the “great job” being done by the local promoter’s CEO. The Mayor neglected to discover that the CEO had a history of tax crimes. Without community input, the Mayor secretly negotiated a 5 year contract obligating the City to spend millions of taxpayer dollars annually for street improvements for the race while not obtaining any license fees for the race’s use of public roads.
The Mayor subsequently pushed out the promoter’s CEO in favor of John Casey, who had no experience managing an IndyCar Race. The Mayor has consistently blamed Casey for the race’s failure, without accepting any responsibility for his own failure to check out Casey’s lack of experience and expertise.
When MassPort and other state authorities resisted paying for street improvements, Mayor Walsh reneged on his deal with the promoter and forced it to absorb all street improvement costs. However, the Mayor allowed tickets to go on sale without making sure that the promoter could still pay the substantial costs of the race. As things turned out, the promoter filed for bankruptcy, leaving sponsors, vendors, investors and taxpayers out-of-pocket more than $10 million, and John Casey sued the City for $15 million.
The Mayor and his team overlooked that the Race involved substantial construction in flood zones in the Seaport. When that problem came to light, the City cooperated with the promoter’s attempt (which failed) to get the Boston Conservation Commission to bend its rules in favor of the race.
The Mayor’s head of the Special Events Office, Ken Brissette, who oversaw the promotion of the race, was indicted for extortion in May 2016. In a breathtaking display of hubris, Mayor Walsh has continued to pay Brissette’s salary – an unprecedented act – and has claimed that doing so is consistent with past practice – which is false. The Committee appointed by the Mayor a year-and-a-half ago to review the Special Events Office has yet to release any report.
The IndyCar race was not just a three hour event. It involved six months of major construction on local roads each year. Although residents strongly objected to the impacts of the race on their neighborhood and the environment, Mayor Walsh never responded to their letters.
Instead, the Mayor listened to insiders who stood to make lots of money from the race. Unfortunately, the Mayor continues to deny that he was influenced by insiders and has not accepted any responsibility for his own role in the debacle.
Voters should seriously consider these behaviors in deciding whether they have confidence in four more years of Mayor Walsh’s leadership.
David Lurie was the attorney for Coalition Against IndyCar Boston and has practiced law in Boston for 34 years.