Boston Mayor Martin Walsh hurried his way through his first major policy speech on Friday, even stepping on some applause lines. But the central message was soothing nonetheless for hundreds of corporate leaders attending the annual meeting of the business-backed Boston Municipal Research Bureau. Walsh made clear that the new administration will protect the city’s triple-A bond rating, which is a legacy of two decades of tight fiscal controls under former Mayor Thomas Menino.
“As I prepare to bring my first budget to the City Council, we will not do anything to jeopardize this coveted status,’’ Walsh told his audience at the Seaport Hotel.
If anyone had been hoping for a major announcement, they would have been disappointed in Walsh’s speech. The mayor’s boldest announcement was the formation of a Late Night Task Force that will seek ways to keep bars and restaurants open later in some sections of the city. The real action, it turned out, was taking place a few miles away at City Hall where 14 staffers from the Boston Redevelopment Authority — including the entire Business Development Division — were fired. On the campaign trail, Walsh frequently lambasted the city’s quasi-public planning and development agency, charging it lacks transparency. Shortly after taking office two months ago, he ordered a performance audit of the agency.
In short, Walsh communicated in words that Boston is “open for business,’’ be it local or global. And he communicated by his actions that he doesn’t trust the current incarnation of the BRA to attract, retain, and grow companies in Boston.