Since his inauguration, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has been the subject of many headlines that have occasionally catapulted him into the national spotlight. For example, he was a notable presence at last year’s Democratic National Convention. More recently, he has captured attention for being a vocal critic of President Donald Trump. Nonetheless, with the release of a report card on the mayor’s record on Sunday, the Boston Branch of the NAACP reminded Walsh, just ahead of the November election, that his place is not on the national stage, but on the local one.
The Boston Branch of the NAACP, the oldest chapter in the nation, conducted an investigation into several key areas: education, diversity in staffing, economic development, and public safety. The mayor received C’s in the first couple of categories. Unfortunately, those were his highest marks. In the latter two, he received D’s. In order to determine the ultimately disappointing grades, the NAACP looked at the initiatives of the Walsh administration and their results in various subcategories of the four groups.
Given the rapidly approaching general election, the NAACP released this decidedly withering rebuke at a particularly inopportune time for Walsh. Still, it said that this review of his record, while harsh, is not tantamount to an endorsement of Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, the mayor’s challenger. Instead, it expressed the hope that this report card could serve as a guide for all of the different actors in Boston as they continued to make efforts to promote inclusivity in the city. Further, Walsh himself offered a brief but polite reply that indicated an understanding of the NAACP’s goal with this project. Finally, he is not without support in communities of color.
Nevertheless, he does have a number of critics that are skeptical of his commitment to the communities that were the focus of the investigation. Indeed, nagging questions about the extent to which these groups are benefiting from the city’s tremendous resources remain. In addition, people in the majority-minority neighborhoods are increasingly wondering about their ability to remain in their homes, often on account of the skyrocketing rents and a development boom. With the November election looming, these are issues that Martin Walsh has not yet definitively addressed. Adding to the above considerations, Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson has shared some startling information of his own.
Jackson declared, “I represent currently from a sliver of the Back Bay to Roxbury, and in my district alone, in a two-mile radius, there is a 33-year difference in life expectancy. The life expectancy in Back Bay is 91.9, and the life expectancy in Roxbury is 58.9.”
Hence, the NAACP’s tough review of Mayor Walsh’s record must serve as a springboard for more detailed discussion before the election, not just for the good of some, but for the good of all. Bostonians both need and deserve answers. Platitudes in themselves can no longer assuage what have understandably become very valid concerns.
[Featured Image by Elise Amendola/AP Images]