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City councilor aims to subpoena Boston 2024 documents

“Why are you asking the citizens of Boston and the Boston City Council to go forward without complete disclosure?” Tito Jackson asked at a news conference.
“Why are you asking the citizens of Boston and the Boston City Council to go forward without complete disclosure?” Tito Jackson asked at a news conference.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File 2014

City Councilor Tito Jackson of Boston announced Monday that he wants to subpoena documents from the private organization bidding to host the Summer Olympics, taking aim at Boston 2024 during a news conference on City Hall Plaza.

A subpoena must be approved by a majority vote of the City Council, Jackson said. The councilor said he did not know how many of his colleagues would support the measure.

Jackson has demanded a full copy of the initial bid submitted to the United States Olympic Committee, which selected Boston as its nominee to host the Summer Games over Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Boston 2024 issued a new proposal this summer, but Jackson is seeking a full copy of the initial bid.

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Portions of the initial proposal have been released, but Jackson said Monday he wants the final two chapters about political support and the budget to be released. Jackson said he is not anti-Olympics, but pro-Boston.

"Why are you asking the citizens of Boston and the Boston City Council to go forward without complete disclosure?" Jackson said as he stood at a podium adorned with the seal of the City of Boston. "I am disappointed that Boston 2024 — a group of individuals that no one elected — would make financial promises, commitments, and speculations on behalf of the City of Boston and have the audacity to tell us it is none of our business."

Jackson said he filed paperwork with the city clerk's office to initiate the process of issuing a subpoena. The move could force City Council President Bill Linehan and other councilors to take a position on a controversial issue.

State law gives the City Council authority to treat people like court witnesses subject to subpoenas, fines, or imprisonment. The power has rarely been used.

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But since 2014, councilors have flexed their legislative authority. The word "subpoena" became such a catch phrase that Linehan urged restraint and implemented a new parliamentary rule designed to slow the process for issuing them.

This week, Jackson filed an order in the city clerk's office demanding that Boston 2024's chief executive, Richard A. Davey, appear before the City Council at 1 p.m. Aug. 12 with a complete copy of the initial bid.

The proposed subpoena is scheduled to be introduced at Wednesday's City Council meeting, where it will probably be referred to a committee chaired by Linehan. "I'm going to listen to the justification [for the subpoena], and I want to listen to what my colleagues have to say," Linehan said in an interview.

Some members of the city's legislative branch supported Jackson, including Councilor Matt O'Malley.

"Transparency is incredibly important with a large endeavor such as this," O'Malley said. "I support everything we can do to get more information out to the public."

Councilor Michelle Wu said she and her colleagues need to have "access to all the information in order to be able to deliberate appropriately."

In Boston, almost all municipal power is concentrated in the mayor's office, and city councilors rarely hold news conferences. Jackson endorsed Mayor Martin J. Walsh's successful run in 2013, but the two men have clashed over several issues since Walsh took office.

Some political watchers have wondered whether Jackson plans to challenge Walsh in 2017. On Monday, when Jackson was asked if he were going to run for mayor, the councilor avoided the question.

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"Mayor Walsh is a friend of mine," Jackson said. "What we're talking about today is not anyone in elected office. It's not about anyone in appointed office. It's about the people of the city of Boston and the taxpayers of the city of Boston who may be on the hook based on this Olympic bid."

Boston 2024 officials did not respond to a request for comment.

In a video message, a Cambridge city councilor, Nadeem Mazen, said he would ask his colleagues to issue their own subpoena for a copy of the complete, unredacted bid book that Boston 2024 submitted to the US Olympic Committee in January. By obtaining the full bid book, Mazen said, "We will have an even better understanding of the types of people we're working with and, more importantly, about the chances that the people have of the Olympics being fair."


Michael Levenson contributed to this report. Andrew Ryan can be reached at andrew.ryan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.