Tough choices ahead as Wu celebrates 100 days as mayor

As she celebrates her first 100 days in office, Mayor Michelle Wu has scored some early victories, including the generally successful removal of the tent camp in the Mass and Cass area and the rollout of several free bus routes – the latter , at least partially good on a campaign promise for a free T.

These victories helped cement his reputation for overcoming major challenges.

Wu’s administration was launched in November, at the end of an election cycle in which Bostonians chose progressive candidates and backed calls for progressive reforms in polls and polls.

In the coming months, as his administration scrambles to fill top positions at the Boston Planning and Development Agency, Boston Police Department, and Boston Public Schools, Wu will face tough choices that could put her at odds with an increasingly left-wing Boston. Council and electorate.

While a majority of voters were in favor of a non-binding ballot question calling for a return to an elected Boston school board, Wu told the banner that she would not vote in favor of a petition on the bylaws for such a change if presented by the City Council.

“We’re not there yet,” she said in a phone interview last Friday. “I still believe that there must be a responsibility of the mayor.”

In a questionnaire to candidates with the group Progressive Massachusetts, Wu supported reforms, including shutting down the Boston Police Department’s controversial gang database. While a recent federal appeals court ruling found the database was not a reliable indicator of actual gang membership, Wu told Banner that she was waiting for a new commissioner of police, whom she plans to hire in the spring, before making any changes.

“We are in conversation with the Boston Police Department regarding the gang database,” she said. “I’m in a phase of diving with the police department on the ins and outs of how we can implement the reforms.”

When asked if she thought the database was effective, she said no.

“In its previous configuration, no,” she said.

But Wu left the door open to reforming the database rather than going without, noting that the city is doing a full audit of the list of suspected gangs and its list of more than 3,400 gang members. and affiliated with gangs.

“We’ve had conversations with the Boston Police Department, going deeper into how the rooms work,” she said.

Asked about the status of the department’s nearly year-and-a-half-long investigation into inconsistencies in police court overtime logs, which show officers collecting overtime at courthouses as they draft citations and make arrests elsewhere in the city, Wu said she was waiting for the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, which was launched in April this year. last, be operational.

“They do board retreats,” she said. “They move fast and orient everyone.”

Likewise, the department’s nearly year-long investigation into the extent of Boston officers’ involvement in the capital’s Jan. 6, 2021, uprising awaits OPAT involvement.

An issue that Wu carried over from his years on city council — the dismantling of the Boston Planning and Development Agency — awaits the hiring of a new planning director, Wu told the banner. A review committee is currently reviewing applicants and should proceed with a hire within a few weeks.

“This position will oversee the ongoing pipeline [of development projects] and the dismantling of the BPDA,” Wu said.

Wu recently halted a development plan that would have greenlighted a 600-foot-tall building at the Boston Harbor Garage site, shifting resources and priorities to planning in East Boston, where private developers have builds luxury condos at a feverish pace. .

“We are starting to change the norms and the development program and how it interacts with each neighborhood,” Wu said.

Wu also delivered on his campaign promise to support a more inclusive budgeting process, which would upend the current process in which the council can only react to a budget that the mayor’s administration prepares months in advance.

“The budget process is reversed this year,” she said. “We are working collaboratively with the city council instead of waiting until the end when public input is almost too late to make changes.”

If there is a honeymoon period for Boston mayors, Wu hasn’t had many. She, her family and neighbors have endured daily protests from a small but vocal group of anti-vaccine and anti-mask-warrant activists, who use a megaphone to harangue Wu from 7 a.m. morning most mornings.

“It hurts my children and my neighbors, who deserve to enjoy their homes and get the sleep they need,” Wu said. “It doesn’t affect my leadership. It reminds me of what we are up against: misinformation, racism, conspiracy theories. National policy spills over to the local level.

Wu on Monday filed an order prohibiting picketing in residential areas between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., with an exemption for marches or protests not targeting single-family homes when passing through residential areas.

Wu also faces the threat of state intervention in Boston’s public schools, despite the state’s poor record of running districts and individual schools. Wu said state education commissioner Jeff Riley, whom she met on Feb. 2, did not take the measure off the table.

“He and his team brought up the receivership,” Wu said. “I strongly pushed back”

The transfer of more than 150 formerly homeless people to transitional housing stands out as a bright spot early in Wu’s term, a success that has eluded the last two mayors. While many former residents of the makeshift tent city in the Mass and Cass area have yet to find shelter, the Mass and Cass area is widely considered to have been greatly improved without the coercion and rights abuses that have tainted past efforts.

Wu also got high marks for expanding former Mayor Kim Janey’s free bus program to three routes. A recent MBTA report, however, found that few passengers saved money, as most Ashmont-Jackson Square and Ruggles routes used buses to connect to trains or other paid buses.

Still, Wu has earned praise for the demonstration project, which has reduced boarding times while increasing passenger numbers on some of the system’s busiest buses.

“City government can do great things,” Wu told Banner. “It’s so inspiring to see how quickly we can get things done when we choose to take action.”

Comments are closed.