BRA Seeks to Block Mosque Questions

January 23, 2007

Author: Charles A. Radin and Matt Viser

Source: The Boston Globe

The Boston Redevelopment Authority went to court yesterday to prevent four of its key officials from having to answer questions under oath about a deal in which a city-owned parcel of land was transferred to an Islamic group for construction of a mosque.

Lawyers for the city's most powerful agency argued in Suffolk Superior Court that critics of the mosque project at Roxbury Crossing had no right to depose the BRA officials about the project or obtain more documents than those already provided to the David Project, a nonprofit Jewish advocacy group.

Leaders of the David Project have questioned the BRA's deal with the Islamic Society of Boston, under which the society is building the mosque. They have also suggested the BRA is trying to keep details of the arrangement secret by blocking the release of public information.

BRA attorneys said the David Project has not agreed to pay for searching for the requested documents, including e-mails, and for copying those documents, a cost that could range from about $50,000 to $85,000.

David Project lawyers said that they have clearly stated they would pay all reasonable search and duplication costs but that the BRA had "wildly inflated" cost estimates in a continuing effort to withhold thousands of public records.