Crying over spilled beans

Crying over spilled beans 

None of the city councilors who met with former councilor Peter O’Donnell and Bob Baldacci of Ocean Properties readily discussed those meetings on the record. It’s not uncommon for city officials to meet with private developers and keep the substance of those discussions to themselves, given the competitive nature of real estate development. 

Because of this, The Bollard pieced details of this story together from research and several off-the-record conversations with city officials over the course of the past two weeks. 

Once enough details were in place, The Bollard began contacting city councilors on April 27, asking them to discuss this matter for a published article. Councilor Ed Suslovic happened to be the first councilor reached by phone who was willing to discuss his meeting with O’Donnell and Baldacci on the record.

On the evening of April 28, O’Donnell called The Bollard and continued to verbally harass and disparage this reporter. The impetus for his call was his allegation that this reporter had “lied” to City Councilor Jim Cloutier by telling him Suslovic was the source of the story. O’Donnell claimed another city councilor was the sole source of information regarding the meetings. (The Bollard is not identifying that councilor because O’Donnell’s allegation is false). 

O’Donnell was informed that details about the meetings were gathered through off-the-record conversations with multiple sources, and that Suslovic was the first councilor reached who spoke on the record about the meeting. In subsequent conversations with councilors, The Bollard informed at least one of them, Cloutier, that Suslovic had discussed the meeting on the record. 

Councilors were informed of that fact in hopes that they, too, would be comfortable discussing the matter on the record. Some were, some were not.

Mayor Jim Cohen, for example, discussed the Ocean Properties proposal only after being informed that The Bollard had spoken to Baldacci about it. “If they’re telling you [about the project], then that tells me they’re comfortable,” Cohen said. 

Suslovic was asked whether O’Donnell and Baldacci had requested that he keep their meeting confidential. “I didn’t come away with that sense,” he said during his April 27 interview with this publication. “If they’re meeting with councilors, that’s not a good way to keep things quiet, is it?”

— C.B.

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