A June 1 item on the City of Boston’s calendar looked like the stuff of conspiracy theory: an apparently private State House meeting between the Boston City Council and Boston state representatives about redistricting—the annual redrawing of electoral districts.
The meeting was slated for the “Members Lounge” at the State House, where the state Open Meeting Law does not apply.
The meeting notice led to puzzled news reports and a courtroom allegation of City Council secrecy.
But the meeting was actually a social gathering and its billing as a redistricting discussion was “just an honest-to-God mistake,” City Clerk Rosaria Salerno told the Gazette.
“Redistricting was never on the agenda,” said East Boston area City Councilor Sal LaMattina, one of the few to show up for the reportedly lightly attended event. “We never had any discussion of any legislation or any policy. It was just a meet-and-greet.”
The point was to make personal connections in case councilors and state legislators need to work together in the future on issues like last year’s public library closure controversy, LaMattina said.
A city clerk accidentally added the term “redistricting” to the meeting notice from a different document, Salerno said. She provided the Gazette with the original meeting notice from City Council President Steve Murphy, which says only that the groups “will be meeting.”
Salerno removed the term “redistricting” from the meeting notice on the city’s website calendar in a retroactive correction after being contacted by the Gazette.
Murphy was reportedly questioned on the witness stand about the “redistricting” meeting at a June 20 court hearing in a lawsuit about City Council violations of the Open Meeting Law.