BOSTON MAYOR Michelle Wu is taking an unconventional approach in appointing a person to represent Boston on the MBTA board of directors.
The Legislature and Gov. Maura Healey approved a fiscal 2024 budget in August that expands the T board from seven to nine members, adding a representative from Boston appointed by Wu and another appointee of the governor.
Instead of selecting someone from a list of candidates assembled privately by the mayor or her staff, Wu is inviting members of the public to recommend someone for the volunteer position or recommend themselves by submitting a resume.
“We’re looking for a Boston resident and T rider to help represent Boston’s needs and agenda in the governance of the MBTA. It’s a four-year volunteer position with several board meetings or subcommittee meetings each month,” Wu said in a Substack article she wrote outlining her plan.
Nothing would prevent Wu from picking a more conventional candidate. The mayor has several people on her staff who could easily fill the bill, including Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s chief of streets; Chris Osgood, a former chief of streets who now serves as Wu’s senior advisor on infrastructure; and Tiffany Chu, the mayor’s chief of staff who previously served as CEO of Remix, a transportation software company and before that commissioner of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment.
But the tone of Wu’s comments suggests she’s willing to roll the dice and appoint someone who emerges from the public engagement process – even if it’s an unknown with little experience.
The only requirements are that the person be a resident of Boston, a public transit rider, someone “connected to communities of transit riders, including employees, customers, and students;” and a person committed to “high quality, reliable, and affordable public transportation as a core strategy of economic growth, cultural vibrancy, and quality of life.”
Wu clearly has an agenda. “We need collaboration to deliver gold-standard rapid transit bus service to match the new infrastructure on Blue Hill Avenue; an expansion of the Silver Line to better serve Charlestown on Rutherford Avenue connecting to Kendall Square; bus network improvements to bring direct transit service that the patients and workers in Longwood Medical Area deserve,” she said in the Substack article. “And we need to move faster on improving bus service and reliability on every street in Boston, connecting the Red and Blue Lines to make thousands of regional trips per week faster by subway than by car, and electrifying the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line to transform our current diesel commuter rail trains into fast and frequent regional rail.”
The deadline for resumes, suggestions, and comments is Tuesday. Wu, who sat in on the MBTA’s August board meeting last week, said the new appointee will be selected prior to the next meeting on September 28.
“You all have no idea how excited I am to be here,” she said last week. “This is one of my life-bucket items.”
Fiandaca stepping down: Gina Fiandaca, Gov. Maura Healey’s secretary of transportation, is stepping down September 11 after just seven months on the job and neither Fiandaca nor Healey are offering an explanation. The split appears to be related to a series of questionable hiring decisions.
– Monica Tibbits-Nutt, the No. 2 at MassDOT, will step in as interim secretary. It may now be her job to lose. Read more.
Climate change and the elderly: Nobody, particularly the elderly, should be facing the climate crisis alone, say climate activist Sabine Von Mering and cartoonist Pat Byrnes. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
The Supreme Judicial Court sides with Secretary of State William Galvin in a legal dispute with Robinhood Financial over the limits of his regulatory powers. (Gloucester Times)
Brookline.News publishes emails from a private listserv used by Town Meeting members. The emails were obtained under a public records request.
Several weeks after her staff floated the idea, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu filed a proposed ordinance that would give police clear authority to remove tents from the encampment of homeless people along Atkinson Street in the troubled Mass. and Cass area. (Boston Herald)
A Boston Herald editorial chides City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson – who got mugged and had her cell phone stolen when she stopped to view the troubled Mass. and Cass area on Saturday night – for her earlier efforts to cut the police budget.
Somerville residents are deciding how to spend $1 million of the municipal budget as the city joins the “participatory budgeting” movement that has taken hold in cities. (Boston Globe) CommonWealth took a deep-dive look last December at Boston’s new participatory budgeting initiative.
Wilbraham officials are waiting for an engineering report on the Red Bridge hydroelectric site, which partially collapsed last week. (MassLive)
Rep. Ayanna Pressley struck back at Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy for likening her to “grand wizards” of the Ku Klux Klan, calling his comments “deeply offensive.” (Boston Globe)
A federal judge set March 4 for the start of former president Donald Trump’s trial on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election, rejecting his lawyers’ efforts to have the proceedings delayed until 2026. (New York Times)
Five candidates are running for the six open seats on the Methuen School Committee. (Eagle-Tribune)
The New Bedford Standard-Times profiles the first openly transgender candidate for New Bedford city council.
The MBTA announces some September diversions to allow work on defective track on the Red Line to Braintree. (WBUR)
After cuts earlier this year impacted Worcester Regional Transit Authority schedules, bus passengers are frustrated and bus drivers are picketing. (Worcester Telegram)
Hundreds of teens were involved in violent melees and attacks on police Sunday night at the South Bay Mall in Boston and outside the AMC movie theater downtown. (Boston Globe)
A lawsuit accuses a former Springfield middle school teacher of “grooming” a seventh grader and exposing her to unwanted physical contact. (MassLive)