Three weeks before Boston Calling’s 2014 fall concert, the city’s top tourism official, Kenneth Brissette, contacted festival organizers to specifically discuss hiring union stagehands for the show, according to city e-mails released Friday, which provide the most explicit evidence from the city that Brissette requested jobs for organized labor.
Brissette was indicted last month by a federal grand jury for allegedly withholding city permits from Boston Calling until organizers hired workers they neither wanted nor needed from Local 11 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Among about 3,000 e-mails released by the city Friday afternoon was one dated Aug. 17, 2014, by Boston Calling cofounder Brian Appel. He informed Joyce Linehan, one of Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Cabinet chiefs and closest advisers, that Brissette had called him two days earlier “to discuss adding union production staff to the festival,” which was scheduled to begin Sept. 5.
“As a partner of the city we are open to this conversation,” Appel wrote, saying he had agreed to meet Brissette on Aug. 19. “I hope you’ll be able to come, as I think it could be a bigger/more impactful conversation than just a couple of guys added to the production team.”
Ultimately, Boston Calling hired eight IATSE workers and one supervisor, just days before the show. Shortly thereafter, the city released the permits required for the concert, the US attorney’s office has said.
Appel wrote again to thank Linehan for joining the meeting with Brissette, the strongest confirmation to date that a member of Walsh’s inner circle was present for discussions on hiring union members. Linehan’s response was cryptic: “I hope I can deliver some good news. This conversation should have happened in May, not now.”
Linehan, the administration’s director of policy, has declined to publicly address what happened at the meeting. Walsh’s office said Friday that Linehan was not available for an interview.
Boston Calling, through a publicist, declined to comment.
E-mails released Friday also show that Boston police would not sign off on Boston Calling’s liquor license in the weeks before concert organizers agreed to hire unneeded union stage hands. Appel e-mailed Linehan on Aug. 20, 2014, and pleaded for help.
“We are getting singled out for unknown reasons now, 2 weeks before our next event,” Appel wrote, adding the same day in another e-mail, “We have done everything that has ever been asked of us by the city and by the police, and this blockage has put us in a position where we may not be able to provide beer/wine service at the event, which I’m sure you can imagine is catastrophic for us.”
The records show that Linehan forwarded the e-mail to Police Commissioner William B. Evans and asked for help. Evans responded that there were too many alcohol-related medical issues during the last concert and it was “embarrassing to have this happen on” City Hall Plaza.
Linehan wrote back that she was told there were few problems at the last concert and that she would “get some direction from the mayor.”
Walsh’s spokeswoman, Laura Oggeri, did not directly address a question from the Globe about whether police withheld liquor license approval to pressure concert organizers to hire union stagehands.
The federal investigation into City Hall appears to be active. Just one week ago, federal prosecutors submitted a secret memo in a lawsuit filed by The Boston Globe, seeking to compel the city to release subpoenas it has received related to the investigation. The memo, still under seal, convinced the judge that releasing the documents would compromise the grand jury investigation, and he ruled they could remain hidden from the public.