While Boston mayoral candidates John Connolly and Martin Walsh probe for passageways into the fifth-floor offices in City Hall, the current occupant — Mayor Thomas M. Menino — is carrying out his exit strategy. Menino has never been described as technologically adept. But he and his top aides have hit upon an innovative parting gift: From now until Jan. 6, when the mayor leaves office, he and key members of his administration will update a lively blog — next.cityofboston.gov — designed to ensure a smooth transition for the next mayor.
The transition blog offers easy access to successful operational plans, policy briefs, and behind-the-scenes looks at lesser-known functions and functionaries at City Hall, such as the advance team that scopes out venues before the mayor’s arrival. It’s a huge upgrade from the booklets filled with warmed-over budget information and department head memos that many mayors bequeath to their successors. Menino isn’t backing Connolly or Walsh. But he will leave one of them with what should be the best practical guide to municipal government in the country.
The transition blog also allows Menino, 70, to make his presence felt after he leaves the spotlight. The mayor, who has served five terms, is making it tough for his rookie replacement to use inexperience as an excuse: Hold on, you didn’t know that city department heads need to start preparing budget requests in mid-January? It never dawned on you that the bidding process for a new trash removal contract would hit you on day one? What’s wrong with you? It’s all right there in the transition blog, including text and videos.
The Menino administration launched the blog on Sept. 28, which marked 100 days before the end of the mayor’s 20-year tenure. There’s no guarantee that the daily entries over the next 93 days will be as comprehensive or creative as the first few. But nobody should bet against any project that boasts heavy participation from the mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, the brain trust that creates computer applications to improve the delivery of city services.
Early postings on the transition blog include a section on the city’s Office of Environmental and Energy Services. It’s one thing to know that Boston was recently honored as the most energy-efficient city in the United States. It’s more important for the next administration to have a convenient guide to the ordinances, climate action plan, and citizen engagement tools that led to that distinction.
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