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Janey made history as mayor of Boston, but there's more to her legacy03:31
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Acting Mayor Kim Janey wave goodbye to the audience after giving her farewell remarks at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Acting Mayor Kim Janey wave goodbye to the audience after giving her farewell remarks at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Buttercream frosting may not be the first thing most people associate with Kim Janey's eight-month stint as Boston's acting mayor. But it's top of mind for Lisa Mackin, who recently launched a baking business through the residential kitchen program created under Janey's administration.

Boston Baked Blossoms founder Lisa Mackin makes cupcake arrangements that look like floral bouquets. (Courtesy Boston Baked Blossoms)
Boston Baked Blossoms founder Lisa Mackin makes cupcake arrangements that look like floral bouquets. (Courtesy Boston Baked Blossoms)

She had looked into commissary kitchens and commercial space, but realized it was very expensive, Mackin said. Instead, for a few hundred bucks, she got the training and permits she needs to operate Boston Baked Blossoms out of her house in South Boston.

She fills about a half dozen pickup or delivery orders a day, and she says the option to sell out of a home kitchen — which didn't exist legally before Janey was mayor — could help future entrepreneurs get the low-cost start they need.

"I think there's an opportunity for a lot of people to get going in this business," Mackin said.

Janey, who leaves office Tuesday, will be remembered as the first woman and first person of color to lead Boston. But her legacy may be more extensive.

She piloted a free bus route between Mattapan and Ruggles, and Mayor-elect Michelle Wu hopes Janey's experiment leads to fare-free public transit throughout the city.

Even if that doesn't happen, some of Janey's other changes appear likely to endure.

She formalized Boston's recognition of Indigenous Peoples' Day on what traditionally has been Columbus Day. And she expanded Boston's diversity program for city contractors to include LGBTQ-owned companies.

Janey touted these and other moves in her farewell address.

"We distributed vaccine information through community groups and worked with our hospitals and health centers to make sure vaccines were readily available for all residents," she said. "We established mask mandates indoors and in our schools and a vaccine verification process for city employees."

Janey's vaccine verification process was notably different from the one laid out by Gov. Charlie Baker, who required all state workers under his authority to get the jab unless they qualified for a medical or religious waiver. Janey allowed city of Boston employees to decline vaccination if they agreed to weekly testing.

The merits of Janey's and Baker's approaches are debatable, and the long-term consequences remain unknown. But in the short run, Baker's hard line prompted lawsuits from unions, while Janey's flexibility brought labor groups on board.

"Being included in the discussions, being included in the decisions" was meaningful, said Erik Berg, executive vice president of the Boston Teachers Union. "For instance, we negotiated time off to get vaccinated or tested and so forth. Those are all important things to our members, and we think that the policy is more effective and our schools are safer because of it. And that's a tribute to Mayor Janey's approach, frankly."

Janey's tenure wasn't all success and praise. The ACLU of Massachusetts has criticized her administration's handling of the tent village at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, and is suing the city. News outlets, including WBUR, also sued the city for withholding records of police misconduct. And Janey failed to win enough public support in the preliminary election to earn a full term.

Still, there is more to her turn as mayor than the racial and gender barriers she broke.

This segment aired on November 15, 2021.

Related:

Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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