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    Capital Source

    Killing swans in the Public Garden (and other reasons not to have lunch outside)

    Governor Charlie Baker’s budget chief, Kristen Lepore, had a swell idea at the height of the beautiful summer: For a brown-bag lunch with other Cabinet secretaries, they could all sit outside.

    She inquired of Matt Beaton, the energy and environmental affairs secretary, if he had a good spot to host their déjeuner, and looped in the other officials.

    Alas, it was not to be.


    Jay Ash, the housing and economic development secretary, was the first killjoy, according to emails obtained through a public records request.

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    “As exciting as it may be to visit Matt’s playground,” he wrote from his smartphone, apparently referring to Beaton’s oversight of the state’s parks, “I’ve already built my day around being at the state-house for lunch.”

    Public Safety and Security Secretary Dan Bennett, known for his sense of humor, then cracked: “Swan Boats but Matt would bring his rifle and start killing the swans.”

    Beaton, ever earnest, offered a range of possibilities to the leaders in the GOP administration.

    “Swan boats, skeet shooting. ... Anything you’d like. It would depend on how much time folks would like to set aside for this. Harbor islands, picnic in the hatch shell. ... You name it,” he wrote.


    But Marylou Sudders, who oversees the state’s massive Health and Human Services bureaucracy and is known to work extremely long and packed days, axed the field trip idea for good.

    “My schedule assumed Secretary Lepore’s office,” she said, referring to a spot on the third floor of the State House. She counteroffered with the idea of a picnic outside.

    But Lepore acknowledged defeat, scheduling the meeting for her office and offering her colleagues a tiny taste of the outdoors: “I’ll open my office windows for the fresh air.”

    Joshua Miller can be reached at