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Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on the city budget, COVID and policing28:23
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Mayor Michelle Wu at an event in November 2021 about the fare-free bus program. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Mayor Michelle Wu at an event in November 2021 about the fare-free bus program. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is proposing a nearly $4 billion city budget, while also trying to shore up her progressive agenda with key hires like a new planning chief and police commissioner.

Wu also faces tough choices about local COVID precautions at home as mask mandates for public transit and schools fall away across the country.

We caught up with her in one of our regular monthly check-ins, "Mondays with the Mayor."

Highlights from this interview have been lightly edited for clarity.

Interview Highlights

On her proposed $3.9 billion budget: 

"Budgets are in some ways kind of dry — it's numbers and spreadsheets and department allocations — but really at the city level, this is how we do everything that touches people's lives. It's the funding for classrooms and teachers and trash pick-up and housing supports and our resiliency preparation. So all that we do over the next fiscal year ... is laid out here dollar by dollar, line by line. It's been really exciting because we are still recovering from the pandemic financially ... but we're in strong shape, and especially relative to other cities, we have the opportunity to put federal funds to work."

On the search for Boston's next police commissioner:

"I have had extensive conversations with [Acting Commissioner Gregory Long] and really grateful for his partnership, his leadership of the department. He has said he's not interested. There is a process ongoing now and actually applications just opened. So we have consolidated the feedback from many public conversations and stakeholder conversations into a job description, and we're encouraging anyone to apply."

On police union opposition to restrictions on tear gas and rubber bullets: 

"As it stands, this ordinance was already very thoughtful when it comes to how the measures were implemented. It's [in] a significantly different form than when it was first introduced, and it involves giving a warning to crowds before using potentially dangerous chemicals or projectiles at large-scale events. These are items that in other parts of the world are not allowed for use at all. And so this strikes a balance of ensuring that we can protect everyone's safety at the events."

On whether she will lift the mask mandate in schools: 

"I understand the fatigue, understand the desire to just move on. Unfortunately, Boston Public Schools has pretty big vaccination gaps when it comes to our young people, and that has factored into our decision-making as well, especially relative to other districts. We are watching the numbers very closely. We are working to balance every bit of public health knowledge and information with the needs of schools and school leaders on the ground."

This segment aired on April 25, 2022.

Tiziana Dearing Twitter Host, Radio Boston
Tiziana Dearing is the host of Radio Boston.

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Walter Wuthmann Twitter General Assignment Reporter
Walter Wuthmann is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.

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