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Monday, January 29, 2007

Show me the money

MARLBOROUGH

The city must release information disclosing the amount it has spent on legal bills and to retain lawyers from the Mirick O'Connell law firm between 2003-2006. That's according to a Jan. 24 decision by the Secretary of State's office, which found that the city could not withold it from the president of the police patrol officers' union.

Union president Patrick Hogan had requested the information but was denied access to it by city Solicitor Donald Rider, who said the request was motivated by the union's collective bargaining effort. The city is currently in federally mediated contract talks with its largest employee union.

State officials at the Secretary of State's office said that didn't matter.

"This office finds that your response is not adequate and violates the tenets of the Public Records Law," Supervisor of Records Alan N. Cote wrote in a letter to Rider. "Please be advised that the Public Records Law does not distinguish between requesters. The right of requesters to inspect and obtain copies of public records is a clear and statutory mandate."

Upon receiving the letter, city officials have 10 days to provide the information.

--Megan Woolhouse

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