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Mayor Walsh Says Boston Workers Can Speak Freely About Olympics Bid

Boston 2024 has proposed hosting beach volleyball on Boston Common. (Boston 2024)
Boston 2024 has proposed hosting beach volleyball on Boston Common. (Boston 2024)
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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told city employees in an email Thursday that no one will face consequences for sharing their opinions about the city's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Walsh sent the email after controversy erupted Wednesday over an agreement the city signed with the U.S. Olympic Committee that forbids city employees from criticizing Boston's bid.

The agreement, signed by Mayor Walsh, says city "employees, officers and representatives" are banned from making any comments that "reflect unfavorably" on the USOC, the International Olympic Committee or the city's bid.

A spokesperson for Walsh said Wednesday the mayor was "not looking to limit free speech" and that the agreement contained "standard boilerplate language" that "all applicant cities have historically signed."

In the email to employees Thursday, Walsh reiterated that he "will not — and will never" limit city employees' right to free speech.

"All employees are welcome to share their opinions as we move forward and I hope that you will help the City of Boston in shaping its Olympic proposal," the email said. "I want to emphasize that no employees will face any consequences for contributing their thoughts - positive or negative - and I look forward to hearing from all of you."

Walsh also encouraged city employees to participate in the nine public meetings planned to discuss the bid — the first of which is scheduled for Tuesday at Suffolk Law School.

--Here is the full email sent to all city of Boston employees:

Dear Colleagues,

First, I want to thank you all for your service to the residents, businesses and visitors of the City of Boston. I am so grateful for all the work you do everyday.

I also want to take a moment to reach out to each of you regarding news of the agreement that I signed with the United States Olympic Committee to put Boston forward as a potential Olympic host. The agreement contains boilerplate language that all cities have historically signed regarding city employees and their participation in the Olympic process.

I want you to hear from me directly, I will not - and will never - limit your right to free speech.

All employees are welcome to share their opinions as we move forward and I hope that you will help the City of Boston in shaping its Olympic proposal. I want to emphasize that no employees will face any consequences for contributing their thoughts - positive or negative - and I look forward to hearing from all of you.

I encourage everyone to participate in the Olympic process and attend the citywide community discussions that I will be hosting over the next few months. The first community meeting will be on Tuesday, January 27th at 6:30 p.m. at Suffolk Law School. The following meetings are:

February 24, 2015 at Condon School Cafeteria
March 31, 2015 at Harvard Business School
April 28, 2015 at Roxbury Community College
May 19, 2015 at Cleveland Community Center
June 30, 2015 at English High School
July 28, 2015 at Mildred Ave School
August 25, 2015 at Ohrenberger School Cafeteria
September 29, 2015 at East Boston High School

This is a very exciting opportunity for Boston that has the great potential to improve our City for many years to come. My office is available to answer any questions as we move forward, please reach out to John FitzGerald at john.fitzgerald@boston.gov.

Sincerely,

Mayor Martin J. Walsh

Abby Elizabeth Conway Twitter Digital Producer/Editor
Abby Elizabeth Conway was formerly a digital producer and editor at WBUR.

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