By ELAINE FALLON
Mayor Martin J. Walsh delivered his second State of the City speech (SOTC 16) on Tuesday evening, Jan. 19, in Symphony Hall. While acknowledging the many problems that the city of Boston still faces, the mayor was still emphatically upbeat. Progress in our city has ranged from reductions in crime, homicides and unemployment to the recent news about General Electric’s relocation to the South Boston waterfront.
Symphony Hall was an ideal venue for SOTC 16. The acoustics in Boston’s historic cultural center are unmatched; the decor inside Symphony Hall is an ever-present reminder of the city’s heritage. Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops remarked that music halls have historically served as gathering places for communities throughout the centuries.
And the SOTC 16 preliminary program lived up to that heritage. The Symphony’s Hawthorne String Quartet, the English High School Marching Band, the BFD’s Honor Guard, the Wounded Warriors, Poet Laureate Danielle Legros George, and the excellent Boston Arts Academy Spirituals Ensemble all took part. Many, many, many of Boston’s school children were invited to attend the SOTC 16 scene.
South Boston had its own presence at SOTC 16: Fr. Joe White, recently the pastor of St. Vincent’s Parish, took part in the Invocation, along with Muslim, Jewish and Protestant clerics. As part of the official recognitions, the mayor singled out Southie’s Hon. Ray Flynn and his wife Kathy. Ray has served both as Boston’s mayor and the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.
Boston’s schools were a key point of the mayor’s SOTC 16 (NOTE: Organized school protesters demonstrated outside SOTC 16). He promised an infusion of funds into the school budget, to include support of pre-K and special education, and he mentioned successes at the Perkins School. Walsh also spoke of his plans to make the city age-friendly and to support the arts. He reviewed several accomplishments in 2015; he announced the appointment of Sara Myers as the new BRA director of planning. She will focus on the development of more housing in Boston.
South Boston Online will reserve editorial comment on the mayor’s speech until future issues. All we need to say here is that the mayor’s speech was very well delivered and received. His remarks proved that our city is a great place to live, in both the short-term and the long-term future.