Marty Walsh’s capital budget could help campaign

April 15, 2017

Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s five-year, nearly $2.1 billion capital budget earmarks big bucks for his mayoral challenger Tito Jackson’s Roxbury district in a move one City Hall watcher says appears aimed to “knock out his opposition.”

The capital budget detailed yesterday would revamp parks, renovate and rebuild the city’s schools, and redesign streetscapes, while also investing millions in arts, housing projects and police and fire stations.

Walsh’s plan would drop $151 million in Jackson’s District 7 spread across 21 projects — the most in any one district — including improvements at Dudley and South End libraries, repairs to community centers, investments in Franklin Park, redesigns of Ruggles and Dudley streets, and the new Dearborn STEM academy slated to be completed this winter.

Joe Slavet, former head of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, said the projects are aimed directly at Jackson’s Roxbury voters.

“It’s to knock out his opposition,” Slavet told the Herald. “Mayors typically do this in front of an election. They focus capital improvements in areas where they either want to win or they’re weak.”

Unveiling the capital budget that’ll stretch from fiscal years 2018 to 2022, Walsh said the document “directly reflects the feedback we received from thousands of residents who contributed through the planning process in the city.”

The spending puts $600 million into schools, and $709 million to transportation projects for safer streets, including redesigned roadways, protected bike lanes and off-street paths. The budget aims to complete the Emerald Necklace and make improvements to the Common.“The majority of these investments can be traced back to a resident who had an idea of how to make our city more vibrant and better,” Walsh said.

Walsh said he is confident the more than $300 million, or 14 percent, of the $2.1 billion plan that comes from federal funding sources can’t be clawed back by the Trump administration. Walsh has been engaged in a war of words over President Trump’s threat to withhold funding from cities that harbor illegal immigrants.

“It was allocated by the Congress,” Walsh said. “I don’t believe (Trump) has the ability to direct that money in any way, shape or form.”

Councilor Sal LaMattina, whose district includes East Boston, the North End and Charlestown, said the release of the capital budget always “feels like Christmas ...

I want to take this opportunity to thank Santa Claus who has spoiled my district.”