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Election roundup: Walsh would replace BRA with an even larger authority

Marty Walsh yesterday released a 14-point economic plan that, among other things, would ditch the BRA and replace it with a new Boston Economic Development Authority.

Only the BEDA would take on even more work than what the BRA now does, by smushing in all other city agencies and commissions that deal with economic development and disposition of city owned land. So how would it differ from the BRA, which critics accuse of being particularly distant from neighborhood concerns? Walsh says that by consuming departments that now receive city money, the city and the people would have a lever to ensure local concerns are really heard:

For the last 25 years, the BRA has avoided City Council oversight by not taking a City appropriation to run the planning functions as every other City in the country does. It has internally subsidized the planning function, saving the city millions of dollars by utilizing revenue derived from real estate activities undertaken on properties owned by and leased to private developers in Boston. This has impacted what should be an interactive process with neighborhood residents by being financially unable to effectively staff this critical planning function. By merging other city functions into this new agency, city dollars would flow to these functions under the BEDA and open up the agency to ongoing financial and mission review and transparency to the City Council and the taxpayers.

As Walsh notes, both the dissolution of the BRA and the creation of the BEDA would require approval by the state legislature and the governor.

Walsh released his plan as he spoke at a Chamber of Commerce forum. WBUR reports on the forum: Connolly said he would push harder for state money for the T, in particular for buses for the Seaport district, small diesel trains for commuter-rail lines - and not just the Fairmount Line - and more maintenance of existing subway lines. Walsh said he wants to get local universities involved in programs to teach English and other skills to immigrants and people just out of prison.

Candelaria Silva is having trouble telling the two apart. In fact, she finds herself reminded of the old Patty Duke Show, about a pair of cousins who could pass for twins:

Am I losing my mind or are John Connolly and Marty Walsh not two-of-a-kind candidates? Both are Democrats with similar views on many issues. Would that they were ideological opposites if, for example, we had a mayoral contest with Democrats or Republicans running or if the two Democrats had been further apart ideologically.

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Comments

for his pals somehow.

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Wondering where Golar-Richie and Barros will fit into this.

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Would seem to be a fit since she did that for Menino. Barros could be in charge of housing development given what he did at Dudley Street.

But what about Felix Arroyo?

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Wouldn't that be a step back for CGR? Also, Walsh has been specifically asked by those in the Community in the know as well as Housing Advocates to try and retain the current Director - Sheila Dillon, who has been extremely successful in her role there the past year.

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My understanding of the plan is that he wants to merge and streamline a number of city agencies into one. This has been done at the state level recently, too - most notably the merging of various transportation agencies into the Mass. Dep't of Transportation. Saying it "creates a bigger agency that does more things" is not really an accurate way to describe this. It would be making the functions of several agencies be done by a smaller number of people.

Disclosure - I'm not a Marty Walsh worker or volunteer or whatever, but I do think he will have my support in November.

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Yes, there's the potential for streamlining. But at the end of the day, Walsh would be giving even more power over the city to an unelected authority. I'd think in a city that has had issues with unelected authorities for decades (think Massport in East Boston or the MBTA everywhere), that's something we'd want to approach very carefully.

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I don't like the BRA to begin with, so he wants to make it bigger.

No thanks...

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I hear this a lot, that there are 'unelected' people making decisions. If we had more elected officials, I think we'd have a problem like there are with elected judges- people would be making decisions for purely political reasons instead of policy reasons. I'm fine with the strong mayor set-up, as long as there is lots of transparency. Most voters are tapped out at having to vote for city councillors, mayor, state rep, state senator, US rep, and US senator. The minor jobs are almost always unopposed democractic candidates.

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So when is the UHub endorsement of Walsh coming out?

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Do you think this sounds like I approve of this plan?

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No, but it seems like he gets more attention from you.

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Because he's said things I thought were worth noting (the Madison Park idea and this). Connolly hasn't said much of note that I can see the past couple days. It's a marathon, not a sprint :-). For what it's worth, I have yet to decide whom to vote for.

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Word. Honestly your coverage has been outstanding, but it was just something I noticed. Thanks for the reply.

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Because the Madison Park thing was Connolly's idea.

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"We're gonna need a bigger BRA"

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That Dianne Wilkerson's out of jail.

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Creating all powerful super agency with little accountability to the little people. What could possibly go wrong?

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We'll save so much on costs because Walsh has Magic +2 for Labor Negotiation.

(Honestly, he reminds me of Willard claiming he deserved the Presidency because he had special Businessman Magic).

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You may be the only person who has ever compared Marty Walsh to Mitt Romney....

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Smoke and mirrors....

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"people would have a lever to ensure local concerns are really heard"

NIMBYs across the entire city just got massive hard-ons. Can't wait until anyone with a negative opinion of development can dictate what others can't do with their own property. Right on!

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That would be called zoning - something we lack in Boston where the BRA can declare blight and build whatever they want. Then they add insult to injury by giving these guys tax breaks so that they will contribute to the mayor's reelection campaign and NOT contribute to their opponents. A very neat little system indeed.

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