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Outside panel to review Boston’s tourism office

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Mayor Marty Walsh
Mayor Marty Walsh

An outside panel of experts will review Boston's Office of Tourism, Sports and Entertainment and the city's handling of large-scale events, "to make sure that our agencies and staff have the right training and tools," Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement Thursday.

The announcement comes about seven months after a federal indictment said a city employee — later identified as the head of the office, Kenneth Brissette — had warned two businesses that Teamsters members planned to picket them over their association with a non-union production of the TV show "Top Chef." The US Attorney's Office has charged five Teamsters with harassing and trying to extort the "Top Chef" crew.

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An investigator hired by the city, Brian T. Kelly, reported in December that he found no criminal wrongdoing by city employees but did find a concerted effort to preserve the administration's relationship with the union. Kelly said in his report that Brissette did not collude with the Teamsters; Brissette was not disciplined.

In a story about a widespread investigation of union tactics, the Globe last Sunday reported that federal investigators have issued subpoenas to City Hall staff members as part of their ongoing probe of the "Top Chef" allegations.

Kelly, who has continued to provide advice to the city, will consult with the expert review panel "to ensure an ethical process for all event managers," Walsh said.

"My intent is to build on what we learned from the review that attorney Brian Kelly conducted of interactions and permitting procedures related to the filming of 'Top Chef' in Boston," Walsh said. "That report on 'Top Chef' brought transparency to how the city interacted with that particular production and I want to make sure that we build on that knowledge, learn from it, and are using best practices in this field.

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"I have a team of young energetic and dedicated professionals in this area," Walsh said. "They need the right tools and some guidance to ensure that they know how to manage high-profile events."

Brissette, reached last evening, deferred all comment to the mayor's office.

The expert panel will be made up of Larry Moulter, executive in residence at the Center for Collaborative Leadership at the University of Massachusetts Boston; Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events; and Colette Phillips of Colette Phillips Communications, a strategic public relations and event production firm, according to Walsh.


Mark Arsenault can be reached at mark.arsenault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark.