Is Walsh preparing to go ‘bold’ on transportation?

Is Mayor Marty Walsh preparing to call for a massive upgrade of Boston-area public transit by making the case for a regional tax to support bold new investments? Listen to him on the new installment of The Codcast, and you make the call. 

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s “City to City” program sets out to take Boston civic and business leaders to other cities so they can expand their thinking on challenges at home by learning about policies and practices elsewhere. Walsh, who was part of the program’s trip earlier this month to Los Angeles, has clearly taken that mission to heart.

Appearing on The Codcast, Walsh repeatedly pointed to the “bold” move taken by Los Angeles leaders, who brought a countywide ballot question to voters asking them to raise the local sales tax to support major investments in the region’s transit infrastructure. 

“That’s a bold idea,” Walsh said of the LA ballot effort. “We have to think bold here in Massachusetts, and I don’t think we think bold enough.”

Walsh’s comments come as the state faces mounting pressure to address the twin Boston area problems of roadway gridlock and a dilapidated public transit system that drivers are loath to abandon their cars for. 

In 2016, following a campaign led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, 71 percent of voters across Los Angeles County, a sprawling area of 88 cities and more than 10 million residents, approved a ballot question adding half a cent to their sales tax. It’s estimated that that the measure will raise $120 billion over the next 40 years to support a broad array of public transit improvements. 

Walsh said growing the Boston area economy depends on solving the transportation challenge, and that starts with restoring confidence in the public transit system through aggressive improvements. With the Legislature planning to take up transportation finance — an issue the House punted to next year after having vowed to tee it up this fall — Walsh said he supports a call by area mayors for a 15-cent hike in the state gas tax, but insisted that’s not nearly enough. 

“We have to think about, how do we get bigger than that,” he said. 

The Legislature has to sign off on a bill allowing local regions to propose ballot questions to raise transportation revenue, something that has passed the Senate in recent years but died in the House. Walsh is now backing the local-option measure to let regions of the state mount their own revenue-raising efforts. “We need a revenue source. We need to figure it out,” he said. 

The key, Walsh said, is to “tell a story” to voters that makes the case for revenue. He pointed to the recent success of a Boston ballot question calling for a small increase in property taxes to support affordable housing, open space, and historic preservation efforts. 

“We have to be bold in making investments,” he said of the transportation crisis. “I think we have to really think outside the box.” 

With patience over horribly unreliable MBTA service among his constituents running out, and would-be challenger Michelle Wu often out in front with envelope-pushing calls for major change at the T and in city transportation policy, Walsh seems to realize this could be his make-or-break issue.

Pressed repeatedly on whether, if the Legislature approved the local-option bill, he was prepared to lead a regional ballot campaign to raise more revenue for transit projects, Walsh deflected the question. But it’s hard not to see the wheels turning in City Hall policy circles around such an idea. 



The State Ethics Commission publicly reprimands Secretary of State William Galvin for violating conflict of interest law by plastering his name on early voting signs and a voter’s guide. (Salem News)  

Opponents, some who said they were being forced into bankruptcy, fume at Gov. Charlie Baker’s vape ban. (CommonWealth)


Fall River assessor Benjamin Mello resigns as fallout from the Jasiel Correia administration continues. (Herald News)

Marshfield voters have approved a $50 million plan that will pay for the construction of a new headquarters for local police, a new facility for the department of public works, an expansion to the senior center and repairs, and replacement of town sea walls. (Patriot Ledger)

Donald Cleary wins a tough 5-4 vote to become Taunton’s interim mayor until Shaunna O’Connell is sworn in in January. (Taunton Gazette)


The New York Times Magazine looks at Ayanna Pressley’s first year in the fun-house mirror world of Congress after upsetting a 10-term incumbent on the theme “Change can’t wait.”  Pressley on Saturday listened to the concerns of Haitian community leaders who are worried about unrest in their home country. (MassLive)


It’s official: Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is in. (New York Times

Deval Patrick, whose late entry in the presidential sweepstakes has drawn plenty of skepticism, finds a warm welcome at a Mattapan church. (Boston Globe)

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson is selected chair of President Trump’s reelection campaign in Massachusetts. (State House News) 

Climate activist Nathaniel Mulcahy is launching a Democratic primary challenge against Congressman Seth Moulton, and the Rockport Democrat says if elected he would only serve one term. (Gloucester Daily Times


A star-studded cast of local educational, business, and hospital institutions is planning to open a $50 million cell manufacturing facility in Greater Boston to move promising therapies from the lab bench to the manufacturing level more quickly. The headliners include Harvard and MIT. (CommonWealth)

Many traditional favorites on Thanksgiving tables — turnip, squash, cranberries — are grown on Cape Cod. The Cape Cod Times talks to farmers about their crops and the upcoming holiday. 


Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said the district is on track to receive another $100 million through the updated state education funding formula, and she wants to spend that on more rigorous studies, art and music, and student supports like social workers. (WGBH) 

The renaming of a big MIT lecture hall as Shell Auditorium — after the energy giant, a major donor to the school — has set off protests from some students and environmental activists. (Boston Globe

WGBH reports on how college students are stressed and depressed, and what’s being done to help them.

Rep. Frank Moran says it’s “only fair” that college athletes reap some financial rewards from their gameplay, which can generate big bucks for the schools, but paying student athletes would run up against NCAA rules. (Salem News

Cherrie Bucknor, Justin Bloesch, and Hector Medina explain why they’re ready to strike at Harvard. (CommonWealth)


A group of East Boston mothers is sounding the alarm over respiratory dangers from Logan AIrport fumes. (Boston Herald)


Emily Ruddock of MASSCreative and Karen Ristuben of the Essex County Community Foundation say the arts need a dedicated state funding stream. (CommonWealth)

The Nutcracker presentation at the Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts in Worcester gets a major facelift with a $202,000 donation. (Telegram & Gazette)


A Boston Globe editorial backs an increase in the gas tax to support transportation investments, a conclusion that seems at odds with the pro-congestion fee stance taken in the recent Spotlight Team series on traffic. Pros and cons on the Spotlight report on congestion. (CommonWealth)

Uber’s license to operate in London is not extended. (New York Times)

Amy Dain suggests some ways to move on from our car-as-king approach to development. (CommonWealth)


Researchers from the Museum of Science created a heat map of Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline to show areas that can stay dangerously warm during a heat wave. (WBUR) 

Several months after the grandson of US Army General George Patton withdrew plans to build a marijuana greenhouse at Green Meadows Farm, the family has sold 148 bucolic acres on the North Shore to a non-profit that will use it for farming, hiking, and horseback riding. (Gloucester Daily Times


The former Medford police chief, Leo Sacco, knew about a huge scandal involving payroll fraud in his department but handed out no discipline and did not seek an outside review of the case and retired two days after telling a group of officers to stop the behavior. (Boston Globe)  

Police arrested Michael Doyle, a 33-year-old landscaper from New Hampshire, for allegedly brutally attacking a woman and leaving her for dead behind Lawrence High School earlier this year. (Eagle-Tribune

Law enforcement agents say they seized nearly $200,000, cocaine and fentanyl in a Thursday raid of apartments in Easton and Brockton. Foster Monteiro and Ryan Lincoln have pleaded not guilty to a slew of drug charges. (Brockton Enterprise) 


NBC10 fired investigative reporter Karen Hensel over her relationship with Auburn Police Chief Andy Sluckis, Jr., who was featured in the station’s coverage, but she says she didn’t report any stories about him after she started dating him. (WGBH) 

Northeastern journalism professors Laurel Leff and Meg Heckman report on what they say is a threat to freedom of the press on college campuses: a federal reinterpretation of Title IX that puts faculty members at risk if they advise students who are reporting on sexual assault. (The Conversation) Their colleague, media critic Dan Kennedy, weighs in

Colman M. Herman is not happy with Attorney General Maura Healey’s handling of a public records dispute. (New England First Amendment Coalition)