Wilkerson and the Open Meeting Law

Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy

Kevin McCrea, a Harley-riding gadfly and sometime candidate for the Boston City Council, has sent a letter to the Suffolk district attorney’s office about a possible violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law that could be a key to the alleged corruption scandal involving state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, D-Roxbury. (Via Universal Hub.)

According to the FBI, the Boston Licensing Board approved a beer-and-wine license for the Dejavu nightclub on Aug. 15, 2007. McCrea, in his letter, observes that the matter was neither on the docket nor the agenda for that day’s meeting. McCrea is basing his complaint directly on the FBI’s description of what happened that day. According to the FBI affidavit (PDF):

Dejavu’s application for a license did not appear on the agenda that day. Agents attended the public hearing and there was no discussion of Dejavu’s application or a public vote to grant Dejavu any type of license. Despite this, the attorney recruited by WILKERSON later left a message for the CW [cooperating witness] telling him that “the vote was in” and that the beer and wine license had been approved.

When the cooperating witness expressed puzzlement that the license had been approved despite the lack of any public process, Wilkerson allegedly told him that the Licensing Board’s modus operandi is “all smoke and mirrors.”

The meeting McCrea has singled out is at the heart of the Wilkerson story. Boston Globe reporter Donovan Slack wrote on Oct. 29 that the meeting, as described by the FBI, featured an all-star cast of Massachusetts political figures: Senate president Therese Murray, D-Plymouth; Boston City Council president Maureen Feeney; Licensing Board chairman Daniel Pokaski; state Sen. Michael Morrissey, D-Quincy; and Wilkerson herself. (Other than Wilkerson, none of the participants has been charged with any wrongdoing.)

By the end of the meeting, according to the FBI, it was agreed that 40 new liquor licenses would be granted in Boston, one of which would go to Dejavu, whose fate was of particular interest to Wilkerson. Shortly thereafter, Licensing Board members were given a raise, a matter that had previously been put on hold by Wilkerson.

McCrea has a history of making public officials pay when they illegally conduct the public’s business out of view of the public. In 2006, the Boston City Council was fined $11,000 — that’s $1,000 per violation — for going into executive session without a valid reason in order to hold secret talks with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and to discuss an accident involving Boston University’s biolab. McCrea was a plaintiff in that case.

Given the seriousness of the offenses with which Wilkerson has been charged, a possible Open Meeting Law violation might seem trivial. It’s not, because the crimes the FBI says she committed would not have been possible without the original sin of unwarranted secrecy.


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One Response to “Wilkerson and the Open Meeting Law”

  1. kevin mccrea Says:

    Stop calling me a Gadfly! How about “concerned citizen” concerned with the nefarious way that business gets done here.

    Excellent write up!

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