Patrick administration drags its feet over Gillette Stadium footbridge e-mails

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By Glen Johnson, reporter, Boston, Mass. bureau, Associated Press 

When we learned that Gov. Deval Patrick, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and the Massachusetts Democratic Party received maximum campaign donations from Robert and Myra Kraft as the state was considering using federal stimulus money to build a pedestrian bridge near the home of the New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, I filed a FOIA for all e-mail traffic about the project.

The most timely response was the one indicating the Department of Transportation had received it.

It wasn’t until six month later that the papers were finally delivered: a foot-high stack released to us at 2:30 p.m. on a Friday.

We were still able to make weekend deadlines with a story about how DOT engineers felt pressured from the governor’s office and the Krafts to forge ahead with the project, but the getting there wasn’t easy.

 A month after the AP’s Dec. 7 request, we asked for a status update. We were told it was a voluminous request and we might be smart to pare it back. Not wanting to do that, we told the administration we would wait. Possible release dates in February, March and April all elapsed, with various explanations about the redaction requirements.

 Finally, as the AP broached the subject of having its FOIA lawyer intervene, the administration said the material would be released Monday, May 10. When the AP followed up, it was told a department lawyer who needed to give final signoff was in India, so the documents would be released by Tuesday, May 11. That date came and went, and then, at 1 p.m. Friday, the administration said the materials would be available in an hour.

The AP obtained them, then wrote a story detailing the six-month wait and quoting Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan as denying any effort to quash negative news by releasing the materials at a traditionally slow news time heading into the weekend.

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