- The B-Side
- 💁🏻♀️ Mayor Wu has big plans for 2024
💁🏻♀️ Mayor Wu has big plans for 2024
Plus: 🎸 Boston Calling’s lineup is here!
It’s Wednesday, Boston.
❄️ New England’s winter wonderland to slushy nightmare pipeline is real. And thanks to all the rain, it’s moving faster than usual. So we captured the IG expectation vs. reality of what it’s actually like getting a snowstorm here these days.
🥳 Also: A very happy birthday to Theresa Orsino-Sibilia! Full disclosure, she’s my mom, but it’s safe to say she’s probably also our most dedicated New Jersey reader. Love ya!
👀 What’s on tap today:
Boston Calling lineup just dropped
The highest paid state employee
A delightful MBTA misstep
The state of the State of the City
Mayor Michelle Wu gave her second State of the City address last night, a.k.a. an annual address for the mayor to lay out their vision for the city (and take a victory lap).
Here’s what went down:
🙋🏻♀️ For context, this is a pivotal moment for the mayor. It’s her second year in office, and quite a bit has changed since January 2023: We just closed out a tumultuous year on the City Council, there are now several new members on said Council (many of whom are allies), plus a new Council president, and we’re one year closer to 2025, i.e., the next mayoral election.
🔐 In last year’s speech, Mayor Wu laid out some big plans. She pledged to transform the city’s urban planning process, making it easier to construct affordable housing, ensure great education in Boston Public Schools, and quickly transition the city away from fossil fuels.
🏆 This year, she took stock of her 2023 Ws. These wins included everything from the nuts-and-bolts city services of filling 7,000 potholes and adding e-bikes to Bluebikes to major policy wins, like finalizing a new contract with the Boston Police Department, the removal of Mass. and Cass encampments, the restructuring of the Boston Planning and Development Association, and her work to ban fossil fuels in new city buildings.
📝 She ran through some proposals on a few pressing topics: She announced the creation of the district’s first “university-assisted community hub school,” giving high schoolers direct access to college coursework; she vowed to continue her work to make Boston the “greenest city in America,” announcing the eventual roll out of climate-friendly zoning; and stressed the importance of continuing to lower rates of violence in the city.
🏘️ And touched on perhaps the most daunting task: our housing crisis. She doubled down on her plans to increase affordable housing, and flexed some positive stats from last year like, the city permitting the highest ratio of affordable housing in over a decade and approving nearly 7,400 housing units for future development. She also shared that the city will identify locations for 3,000 units of affordable housing to be built in the coming decade, and will launch a fund to keep some homes from being bought by private investors.
👀 What do you want Wu to address in 2024?
Let us know below!
TOGETHER WITH CELEBRITY SERIES OF BOSTON
We’re not being hermits this year, Boston
Get out of the house and do something fun in 2024 — listen to a symphonic crescendo in a packed theater or witness dance moves that send chills down your spine. Celebrity Series of Boston still has plenty of exciting shows to see this winter and spring, including the following upcoming performances that are sure to woo everyone (even your pickiest friends):
Jan. 19: Anthony Roth Costanzo, countertenor @ NEC's Jordan Hall
Jan. 19 and 20: Ashwini Ramaswamy's Let the Crows Come @ NEC's Plimpton Shattuck Black Box
Jan. 28: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis @ Symphony Hall
Tickets are available Jan. 9, so hurry and snag yours before they sell out!
Quick & dirty headlines
Image: Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Boston Calling
🎸 This year’s Boston Calling lineup is STACKED. Seriously, it might actually be worth buying the three-day pass. Ed Sheeran, The Killers, and Tyler Childers will be headlining the event, but we’re arguably more excited about the performances from Megan Thee Stallion (!), Hozier, Leon Bridges, Reneé Rapp, and Chappell Roan. Tickets will go on sale on Jan. 11 at 10 a.m., which you can get here. And to decide which days to splurge on, you can check out the whole lineup and schedule here.
💰 The highest paid state employee is a UMass basketball coach. Pro tip: Quit your job, and work for UMass. That is, if you want a shot at being among Mass.’ highest paid state employees. Mass. released data about highest salaries among state employees, and out of the $9.33 billion payroll, UMass was far and away the top producer of high earners, making up nearly 18% of the list (the MBTA came in at No. 2). So if you’re feeling nosy, (or just want to know how much MBTA GM Phillip Eng makes), check out the full list here.
⚡ Zipcar’s future is looking electric. Literally, because the company’s planning to double its fleet of electric vehicles across 10 cities (including Boston) after a promising pilot program. And yes, they plan to avoid the horrors of past car-share EV transitions. On Zipcar, unlike car rentals, drivers choose their exact vehicle, so drivers won’t be surprise-stuck with an EV. But just in case, they’ve covered their bases: The company sought out certain pick-up spots with chargers, and provided extensive info in the cars and on their website about how to charge and operate the vehicles.
🏈 We’re officially on Belichick watch until further notice. Now that the Pats’ car crash of a season has ended, we can fully turn our focus to coach Bill Belichick’s future (or lack thereof) with the team, and speculation is swirling. If the Pats pass on him for next season, rumor has it that the Atlanta Falcons might make a move. But, during his end of season press availability, Belichick indicated that, if keeping his role meant giving up his GM responsibilities, he’d take the demotion in order to stick with the team.
ONE LAST THING
A backwards bus bench
Image: Suzanne Keeiter/Globe Staff. Illustration: Gia Orsino.
For better or worse, the MBTA truly never stops giving us delightful and ridiculous content. And this time, it’s a little of both.
In a formerly benchless bus stop in Cambridge, a spot for riders to rest their legs while they wait for (infrequent) service was just installed. But there’s just one problem: It was installed backwards. Meaning, if you sit on the bench, you won’t be able to see the bus coming,you’ll instead be face-to-face with a row of shrubbery. Seriously, just take a look.
Apparently, although this incident was a “marking” mistake, backwards benches can be a tactic sometimes purposefully used across MBTA bus stops to save space. But in the case of this bench, it’ll eventually be turned around.
— Written by Gia Orsino and Emily Schario
🚌 Thanks for reading! Maybe this is a blessing in disguise: If you can’t see the road, you might spend less time thinking about how the bus isn’t coming for another 17 minutes.
💜 Special shoutout to today's sponsor, Celebrity Series of Boston, for supporting local journalism and fostering a vibrant arts community in Boston.
🏋️ The results are in: The vast majority of B-Siders work out throughout the winter, but most of you (47%) stick to the indoors. One reader said, “Idk who the people running in 25-degree weather at five in the morning are, but are they okay?”