^ embracing the diversity of everybody : good guy Mayor Marty Walsh
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It took some time, as we knew it would, but after seven months in office, Marty Walsh has definitely put his stamp on our City. It’s a strong stamp inbdeed, one with much good in it. Let us take stock of his strong moves :
1.He appointed a chief of staff, daniel Koh, who is a technology whiz of established brilliance
2.He appointed is best campaign operative, Joe Rull, to be his personnel boss. Rull will hold walsh staffers to account and demand — and get — their uttermost.
3.He has given full backing to Boston Public Schools superintendent John McDonough as “Mac” gradually recreates, top to bottom, how Boston’s schools operate.
4.He appointed as Police Commissioner the best of the likely candidates, Bill Evans, and followed that by appointing the City;s first Police Chief of color, Officer Gross.
5.He added both Felix G. Arroyo and John F. Barros, both mayoral candidates in 2013, to his management team in important policy roles.
6.He has established a real time on line connection to Boston voters and made sure that the City knows of it.
7.He has gotten the MBTA to offer late night service on weekends (albeit not as extensive as hoped for).
8.He has fully embraced the diversity of City life — and diverse people and made sure that all know that they are as cherished as any other City resident.
9.He has made himself a civil rights leader of passion and almost combative intensity.
10.He won from Local 718 Firefighters a new contract that does not break the City budget. He also appointed the best of likely candidates, Joe Finn, as our new Fire Commissioner.
11.He provided the Uphams Corner area, badly in need of funds infusion, a large grant for establishing an arts center at the Strand theater.
12.In a move straight out of “The Last Hurrah,” he, son of Irish immigrants, told the still Yankee-ish Beacon Hill, which has often viewed itself as exempt from City directives or even common social decency, that he will install legally required handicapped accessibility ramps in the area, and do it now : no ifs ands or buts.
Much remains to be done. Walsh’s Mayor staff still hasn’t mch diversity. The City continues to be often unsafe, its nightlife discouragingly segregated, its schools in transition, its neighborhoods unevenly developing, its internet connectivity patchy in places, its jobs growth still stacked against the City’s poorest neighborhoods. Taxi reform has yet to unfold from its currenty “investigation” stage. Traffic jams beset the entire Central Artery. The BRA hasn’t yet a new director. Much of the City’s technology remains several phases behind the times.
But many of these are, challenges well beyond the power of any Mayor to remedy. To remake Boston’s most entrenched failings Walsh will need lots of help from Beacon Hill and Washington. Huge income inequality impedes the City, and it is worsening every day. There’s little that Mayor Walsh can do about it, though the recent law raising our state’s minimum wage to $ 10.50 an hour (up again to $ 11.00 in 2016) will help him, a little.
Walsh will have to tackle the BRA, and soon. He will need to make clear to devlopers that they will no longer command tyhe City’s tax rules. Housing devlopment needs to rfocus, from luxiury condominum projects to dwellings for middle and working class families. Boston has done a marvelous job of becoming an entrepot for the money successful. It now needs to become a good home for those for whom money success remains a pipe dream.
That said, Walsh has made a good beginning — about as strong a first half year as could be expected, maybe, of any new Mayor. Optimistic I now am about what he will achieve in the coming two years before he readies facing the city’s voters in 2017. i actually look forward to the City that he will be shaping in that coming time frame.
— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere