You’ve lost mail

An incident that’s not easily erased.

By Charles P. Pierce
October 11, 2009

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Dear Alan Cote: It seems to me that, as head of the state’s Public Records Division, you’re the point person in this whole business about the deleted City Hall e-mails. The federal prosecutors in pursuit of Dianne Wilkerson and Chuck Turner wanted some e-mails, but -- poof! -- a lot of e-mails had been erased. Go figure. That brought your boss, Secretary of State Bill Galvin, into play, and you’re the one who had to explain to the mayor’s office why the city had to seize the computers belonging to the mayor’s aide who was at the middle of Trash-gate. (That one’s mine, pundits. It’ll cost you a buck every time you use it.) I was particularly fond of the alibi that we should know the aide had innocently deleted the e-mails because he cleaned his desk every night with Windex. By that standard, we can accuse him of laundering money because he gets his shirts done every week. Anyway, there were 5,000 e-mails released recently, and now that at least those have been exhumed from the cyber beyond, here are a few pointers. I would suggest you tell people to concentrate first on all of those that have words like “bribe,” “payoff,” “loot,” or “brassiere” in their subject lines. There may not be any, I grant you, but this office is not the brightest chandelier in politics. I’d also keep a weather eye out for any e-mail that begins, “DELETE THIS IMMEDIATELY!” Oh, and the ones without verbs? You can be pretty sure the mayor wrote those himself.

Charles P. Pierce /