By naming two no-nonsense fiscal watchdogs to his transition team, Mayor-elect Martin Walsh has sent important signals to Bostonians who worry that his deep ties to labor unions could run up the city’s bills in the years ahead. The presence of Samuel Tyler, head of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, and Katherine Craven, executive director of the University of Massachusetts Building Authority, should help to ensure that the Walsh administration begins — and remains — on firm fiscal ground.
Since the Kevin White administration, Tyler has been tracking the size and performance of Boston’s municipal workforce, and sounding alarms whenever an administration’s spending practices threaten the city’s bottom line. Craven, the former chief of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, had great success wringing costs and inefficiencies out of the state agency responsible for reimbursing cities and towns for the construction of new schools. Each should provide important counterbalance to activist members of the transition team — including three former rivals for the office — whose agendas are more likely to include an expansion of city jobs and services.
The Menino administration has been generous to Walsh with its time and expertise. The Walsh team will surely benefit from the outgoing administration’s transition blog — next.cityofboston.gov — that offers operational plans, policy briefs, and behind-the-scenes looks at lesser-known city functions.
A good start for Walsh on Jan. 6 will depend on the good advice, especially fiscal advice, that he receives in the weeks ahead.