Mayor Martin Walsh had had an impressive first year in office. In less than 12 months, his administration has carried out more badly needed reforms than city government had in the previous 12 years. And Walsh has laid the foundation for a different way of running Boston, one that is more forward-looking and collaborative.
Two unglamorous but crucial reviews are especially important in neighborhoods like ours. Walsh ordered a quickly conducted audit of the Boston Redevelopment Authority that found “dire” problems to fix. He also speeded up Zoning Board of Appeals reviews while making them more accessible to the public. Those changes will make big differences in City processes that for years have incited problems large and small in the neighborhoods.
On bigger-picture issues, Walsh has reoriented City Hall to embrace Boston’s long-marginalized arts scene, and his labor experience has paid off in an unexpected agreement to lengthen the BPS school day. His commitment to inclusion has extended to hiring some of his former mayoral competitors. When Mission Hill’s respected Sociedad Latina, among others, notes to a troubling under-representation of Latino officials in government, there’s Walsh appointing the City’s first diversity officer.
The new mayor has made his share of mistakes. We certainly disagree strongly with his embrace of the Boston Olympics, a distraction whose secrecy and back-room deal-making smack of the very problems he’s devoted to reforming.
But we also recognize that the new administration is in a construction phase. It is putting people and policies into strategic places, with a tone combining humility and enthusiasm that is obvious among City Hall’s re-energized staff.
Walsh’s administration has only taken its first steps, but they’re big ones. We look forward to seeing where they take us in Year Two.