From Charlie Flynn
Two weeks after Mayor Walsh’s inauguration, the Boston Redevelopment Authority remains one of the more politically contentious issues in Boston politics.
Feeding into the speculation that Mayor Menino might use last minute appointments to “pack” the BRA with ideological allies before his departure from office, it was reported earlier this month that Mayor Menino did attempt to appoint a new BRA chairman during his last two months in office. The position of BRA chairman has been vacant ever since the retirement of Clarence “Jeep” Jones in September. After Mayor Walsh’s November election, Mayor Menino purportedly sent a request of confirmation for Clayton Turnbull to the Boston City Council to fill the vacancy. However, out of deference to then Mayor-elect Walsh, the City Council’s Committee on Economic Development chose not to act on Mayor Menino’s request.
For Mayor Walsh, the foundation of his BRA policies are just starting to emerge. While he has not yet announced any plans for the type of overhaul he promoted on the campaign trail, he has put forth plans to both audit the BRA and reorganize its leadership structure. Subjecting the BRA to an independent audit may be the first step in Mayor Walsh’s reform process, as he and the city hope to gain a clearer picture of the authority’s independently financed financial structure.
In addition, the Mayor is seeking to create a cabinet-level economic development czar, to whom the BRA director would report. The new mayor said that new czar would help with “streamlining and transparency” in overseeing “the BRA, small business and some other smaller departments.”
Furthermore, Mayor Walsh has yet to make any decisions on new appointments to the BRA board of directors. The board currently has a vacancy created by the retirement of Clarence “Jeep” Jones and the expired terms of board members Paul Foster and Consuelo Gonzales-Thornell.